The Alaska Goldpanners made their debut at the National Baseball Congress College World Series in Wichita, Kansas, on Thursday and despite the Colorado Cyclones out-hitting the Goldpanners 10-9, Alaska came up with a 10-5 win.
Collin Runge, who was a key bat for the Goldpanners during the tournament stretch but has since been away from the team at a major league tryout, rejoined the team in Wichita and picked up where he left off, going 3 for 4 at the plate with a one-run single in the first and a two-run single in the second.
Runge’s RBIs in the second were two of five for the Goldpanners, which got the team off to a 6-0 lead. Braxton Inniss, who hits at the bottom of the lineup but currently leads the Goldpanners with a .331 batting average, also contributed two runs in the second with a two-run single.
The Cyclones chipped away at the lead, scoring one run in the third and fourth inning each. Three consecutive singles and a wild pitch from Alaska starting pitcher Cameron Walker added three more runs in the fifth inning to make the score 7-5.
“There were a few plays that inning that I thought could have been made that would have gotten us out of the inning earlier. ... But (Walker) was able to slow everything down, mentally lock in, continue to throw strikes, continue to force contact and do what he needed to get himself out of the inning,” Goldpanners head coach Miles Kizer said over the phone after the game.
“He actually decided that he wanted to stay in, because I was going to pull him after that inning and he came up and was just like, ‘No, I’m good. I’m fine,’ went back out and went one, two, three. Went back out and was able to finish the seventh. ... I know his line probably isn’t going to show it, but he did a really good job tonight.”
Walker pitched seven innings allowing nine hits and five runs, while striking out eight.
Newcomer Trevor Greenley, who the Goldpanners acquired from the San Francisco Seals for the tournament, had one hit on the night in the sixth inning, a three-run triple, which brought in the last runs of the game.
“He had a couple of bats early that he was frustrated with but then he delivered a huge dagger in the sixth,” Kizer said. “Wherever he hits in the lineup, if we can get guys on base in front of him we are going to be in a really good spot.”
Jacob Fricke closed out the night on the mound for the Goldpanners, allowing one hit and no runs and struck out two.
Missing from the Goldpanners roster is Cole Carder, Grant DeLappe, Griffin McCormick, Blake Porter, Brandon Leitgeb, Marcus Lydon and Aaron Kim.
“Most of those guys were a little bit banged up and they needed to get healthy for school so that’s why they decided to go home,” Kizer said. “They’re great kids. They played hard for us all summer. They were great Panners so I wish a lot of those guys were here. … Shoot, I mean baseball teams are families.”
Joe Riley will be starting on the mound next for Alaska in the team’s Saturday matchup against the Kansas Cannons. Riley has a team best 1.05 ERA and leads the team with 50 strikeouts. The game begins at 4 p.m. AKDT.
Contact News-Miner sports writer Laura Stickells at 459-7530. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMsports.