The Alaska Goldpanners met the Everett Merchants for the fourth time this summer in the championship game of the Kamloops International Baseball Tournament on Sunday, with the Goldpanners dropping the game 6-1 to claim the runner-up title.
The loss snapped the Panners seven game win streak and gives the Merchants a ticket to the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kansas, at the end of the summer. The Panners already punched their ticket to the NBC World Series with a tournament win in Grand Forks, British Columbia, on July 1. The NBC tournament runs from July 27 to Aug. 10 and hosts 30 of the best summer league teams from around the country.
The Everett-Alaska matchup has been a fun one to watch through the summer tournaments, with the teams splitting the record 2-2.
“Every time we’ve played with them they’ve pitched well, we’ve pitched well, they pick up the baseball really well and they can hit,” said Goldpanners head coach Miles Kizer. “It’s two really good clubs that get after each other and there is a little chirpiness and it’s just a nice little competitive summer rivalry.”
Sunday’s game was the first between the two teams that continued to go one team’s way. Jared Maxfield pitched a complete game for Everett, allowing four hits, one walk and one run. Cole Carder scored the lone run for Alaska on a Blake Porter RBI groundout in the bottom of the ninth.
“(The ball) just didn’t land in the grass for us today,” Kizer said. “We had a lot of good barrels where there were just a couple really good plays made by outfielders.”
Cameron Walker pitched the first seven innings for Alaska in the championship game allowing nine hits and five runs, with the majority of those hits coming in the first and fifth innings.
“Cam just had a couple of three or four pitch sequences that got away from him,” said Kizer, who is also Walker’s head coach at Western Oregon University.
The Goldpanners reached the championship game after winning the semi-final matchup earlier on Sunday with a 12-0 win over the Calgary Dino’s, featuring offensive contributions down the entire lineup and rock solid pitching through all seven innings.
The Panners started the game by driving in five runs in the first inning, setting the tone for the remainder of the game.
Joe Riley started the game on the mound for the Panners, throwing two perfect innings. Isaac Olson followed up Riley also pitching a perfect inning. Derek Alumbaugh closed out the game for Alaska allowing three hits and two walks.
While the entire lineup got on base in the game against Calgary, the bottom of the order truly shined, with Ben McKay, Tony Riley and Grant DeLappe each driving in two runs a piece.
“It’s not out of the question to change things up,” said Kizer in regards to switching up the lineup. “(DeLappe) is swinging a really good bat and seeing the ball really well and he’s really confident at the plate so there is a chance that he might move up.”
Connor Konishi, who was batting primarily in the third spot for the Panners and was on a hot streak earlier in the summer, has gone home to San Diego to rehab from a quad injury he sustained in the Grand Forks tournament. If he recovers by the end of the month he will join the team in Wichita, Kansas, for the NBC World Series.
After being on the road for two weeks, the Goldpanners return to Growden Memorial Park at 7 p.m. July 10 to kick off a six game series against the South Bay Saints. Joe Riley will start that series for Alaska on the mound.
On July 17 starting at 6 p.m., the team is hosting a Hockey Night, featuring Stanley Cup winners Colton Parayko and Pheonix Copley. Parayko is a UAF alumnus and Copley hails from North Pole.
Contact News-Miner sports writer Laura Stickells at 459-7530. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMsports.