The Alaska Goldpanners’ 8-6 win over the Northwest Honkers on Thursday brought the Panners record to 2-0 at the 10-team Grand Forks International Baseball Tournament, in British Columbia.
The win gives the Goldpanners (10-6) the lead in the Gerry Foster Division and a guaranteed trip to the money round on Sunday, in which the top four teams in both divisions earn berths.
Blake Porter, hitting third for the Panners, was a difference-maker at the plate early in the game, going 3 for 5 with two runs and a two-run homer in the bottom of the second. He also put the first run on the board for Alaska.
With two outs in the bottom of the first and the Honkers up 3-0, Porter got on base with a single. Singles by Connor Konishi, Aaron Kim and Ben McKay brought him home. An error by the Honkers second baseman and a pass ball gave the Panners a one run lead before Northwest ended the inning on a fly out.
In the top of the second, two consecutive Honkers singles put Brock Bueno on third base and Bueno scored one at bat later on a fielders choice to tie the game. Porter responded in the bottom of the inning with his two-run homer, giving Alaska a lead it would not relinquish.
Walks loaded the bases for the Panners in the bottom of the third and Tony Riley scored on a pass ball to extend Alaska’s lead to 7-4.
With two outs in the top the fourth, the Honkers reached the top of their lineup. Bueno and Jordan Padilla both singled, bringing the tying run to the plate. Panners starter Drew Necochea threw three pitches to strike Cameron Padron out swinging to get out of the jam.
The Honkers chipped away at the lead with a run in the fifth and sixth innings, making it a one-run game.
The Panners last run came from Griffin McCormick on a sacrifice fly from Konishi in the bottom of the eighth.
The Alaska bullpen secured the win, with notable performances from Joe Riley and Cameron Walker, who pitched the eight and ninth innings, respectively, both allowing no hits or walks. Both Riley and Walker have been reliable relievers this season.
Necochea got the win, pitching five innings and allowing five runs, nine hits and three walks.
The Goldpanners next play the San Francisco Seals at 3:30 p.m. AKDT today.
Contact News-Miner sports writer Laura Stickells at 459-7530. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMSports.