After a bit of a late season slump, the North Pole Patriots rallied late in the year to win the Mid Alaska Conference Regional Championship and advance to the DII State Baseball Tournament.
Thursday evening, they kept the hot streak going and advanced within one win of a state title appearance.
Pitcher Conner Lanser pitched a complete game shutout for the Patriots and their offense did enough to secure a 4-0 win over Petersburg Thursday evening at Wasilla High School. The win advanced North Pole to a Friday evening showdown against Kodiak in the DII semifinals to determine who will go on to the DII State Championship game on Saturday afternoon.
Senior Alex Garcia was his normal dominant self as he went 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBI’s. Josh Dutra went 2-for-3 while Brayden Grorud was 1-for-3 with two RBI’s. Lanser was excellent from the mound as he tossed six K’s, walked four and gave up seven hits.
Both teams were scoreless through the first two innings until the Patriots struck in the bottom of the third. With two outs, Grorud singled on a hard ground ball to score Colin Drumhiller and Garcia to give North Pole a 2-0 lead.
After a scoreless third inning, North Pole doubled their lead in the bottom of the fourth on Garcia’s inside the park the home run that score himself and Nic Clark to make it 4-0.
The game wasn’t without drama. With just one out in the top of the seventh, Petersburg managed to load the bases, putting Lanser into a bind. After that, he secured an infield fly out before the runner on third was caught trying to steal home. That gave North Pole three outs and advanced them to a semifinal date against Kodiak on Friday.
The game against Kodiak ended after press time, but no matter what happened, the Patriots managed to achieve victory on a day in which Monroe Catholic was bounced from the baseball playoffs while the West Valley and North Pole softball teams both suffered losses in Pool Play. As such, the Patriots did the Fairbanks area quite proud.
Depending on what happened Friday evening, the may just be getting started.
Contact sports reporter Hart Pisani at 459-7530 or follow him at twitter.com/FDNMSports.