Goldpanners Baseball

Goldpanners pitcher Matt Becker in action during the game against the South Bay Saints Friday night, July 12, 2019 at Growden Memorial Park.

Miles Kizer wasn’t surprised that the Alaska Goldpanners went perfect through pool play and are playing in a quarterfinal today in the 85th National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kansas.

“I really like this team. They played hard all summer, so I’m not surprised how things (in Wichita) started out,” the second-year Goldpanners manager said by phone Wednesday night. “We’ve gotten better with each of the three games, and I’m kind of anticipating us continuing this thing and keeping sharp as we go.”

The Goldpanners qualified for a quarterfinal today against the San Diego Stars at Wichita State University’s Eck Field. The Stars advanced after Wednesday night’s  6-1 win over the Great Bend (Kansas) Bat Cats.  

Today’s game begins at 12:30 p.m. AKDT.

The game will be broadcast on ESPN Radio Fairbanks (820 AM and 107.9 FM), and streamed live on the Goldpanners YouTube channel and

The Goldpanners reached the quarterfinal round after winning pool C with a

3-0 record.

Alaska started the tournament’s championship week with a 10-5 win over the Colorado Cyclones on Aug. 1 at Eck Field. The Goldpanners downed the Kansas Cannons 7-5 Saturday and capped pool play with Monday’s 13-0 romp of the San Antonio Angels.

The Goldpanners are among three teams with 3-0 marks after the tournament’s championship week pool play. The others are the Cheney (Kansas) Diamond Dawgs in pool A and the Santa Barbara (California) Foresters in pool B.

Cam Walker is scheduled to start on the mound in the quarterfinal today. 

The 2019 Western Oregon University graduate collected the win against Colorado. He threw for eight innings, allowing nine hits and five runs (four earned) while striking out nine.

The strikeouts tied him with six other pitchers for eighth place in the tournament’s individual statistics.

“He’s an elite competitor and he has a good fastball that gets up to 95 mph,” said Kizer, who’s also an assistant coach for Western Oregon. “He was throwing a breaking ball that was really tough for Colorado to handle.”

Three other Goldpanners rank in the top 10 of the NBC World Series’ individual leaders.

Collin Runge is tied with Cullen Mayhew, of the Waco (Texas) Missions for the second-highest batting average.

Runge provided five hits in eight at-bats for a .625 average in two games of pool play.

His contributions include five runs scored, four RBIs and a double. The Panners infielder has been walked five times and he’s stolen a base at Eck Field.

Teammates Tony Riley and Russell Stevenson are among four players tied for eighth place with .500 averages.

Riley, an outfielder, went 5 for 10 in three pool games. He scored four times, produced a double and drove in a run. Riley also was hit by two pitches and stole a base.

Stevenson finished 4 for 8 at the plate in three pool play contests. The catcher had three RBIs, two runs scored and was issued three walks.


Contributions sought

The Goldpanners are seeking help with broadcasting expenses during the NBC World Series.

Alaska general manager John Lohrke sent an email Wednesday to Goldpanners supporters for donations of $50 each. The names of individual contributors and businesses will be mentioned during today’s broadcast.

“We hope that we can give you some strong shout-outs for three games, but we must keep winning to do that,” Lohrke wrote, alluding to the NBC World Series’ semifinal round Friday and championship game Saturday.

“Please respond with a yes if you can and I will pass your wishes on to our broadcast team to make sure your support is recognized on the air. I will follow up with you in the coming days to arrange a payment method that’s best for you.

“Thanks for all your amazing support this summer which allowed us to spend two weeks in British Columbia competing in tournaments there, put forth a strong 29-game home schedule and now cap off the summer by attending this prestigious tournament in Kansas.”

Heading into today’s quarterfinal, the Goldpanners are 34-12-0 this season. 

Alaska captured the title in six NBC World Series — 1972, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1980 and 2002. The Goldpanners were tournament runners-up in 1962, 1971, 1975, 1977 and 1983.

Contact News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter:@newsminersports.