ANCHORAGE-The Alaska Goldpanners won the regular season title and followed by winning the postseason ABL tournament tonight. The Goldpanners swept the Anchorage Glacier Pilots 3-2 and 3-1 to claim the championship.
It took 13 innings to secure the first win in the best of three series for the Goldpanners. It was their fourth straight extra inning game in the tournament. Four pitchers saw action for Alaska as Andrew Buehler got the win and Kevin Sprague got his 10th save of the year which is tops in the ABL.
It was tied at two at the end of the fifth. It took eight more innings until there was another score. In the top of the 13th with the bases loaded Pilots' pitcher Michael Robards walks Rick Reigner bringing in Chance Abrath for what would be the decisive run.
Sprague came in for Buehler and went three up three down for the save.
Game two was decided in seven innings. The Panners generated three runs again but held off the Pilots and prevented another extra inning event.
It was tied 1-1 at the end of three. Jake O' Brien's double brought home Kewby Meyer for a 1-0 Pilots lead in the second inning. The Panners answer in the third with two big hits. Jimmy Sinatro led off with a triple then David Flethcer hits a rbi single as Sinatro crosses home for the 1-1 tie.
The bottom of the fifth inning is where Alaska got two big runs. Abrath led off with a single then Fletcher comes back with a trible and another rbi. Fletcher would score a run before the inning was over by way of sac fly from Reigner.
Mikey Ramirez pitched a complete game for the Goldpanners allowing just one run. Ramirez tossed six scoreless innings, scattering five hits, along with five strikeouts. Ramirez finished the season 5-1 as a starter for Alaska.
Fletcher led the way with two hits and two rbis. Both teams got five hits in the game.
The Goldpanners won the regular season ABL title with a 22-13 record winning the league by two games. Alaska finished the ABL tournament with a 4-2 record. The Goldpanners overall record was 35-17-3 in 57 games. They went 22-4 at Growden Memorial Park. They also led the ABL in homer runs (19) and stolen bases (85). The Panners won four titles in the summer 2013 as well.
Alaska won the Barona Bash Invitational Tournament to start the year. They followed up by winning the 108th Midnight Sun Baseball. To cap it all off the Panners won the ABL regular season and the tournament championship. It was their first ABL title since 2005.
Today I talked to Todd Dennis the general manager of the Goldpanners who is in his second year heading the program. There were a few things his team needed to win this year.
“There’s a couple of key elements to winning in the Alaska Baseball League. One of them is speed. One of them is great relief pitching. We had both of those this year and with a very aggressive coach like Bryan Harris having speed on the base pads was very important," Dennis said.
Dennis was happy for Harris on winning coach of the year and how big that was given that Harris was replacing a legend.
"Jim Dietz, who had been around a long time with Fairbanks, dating back to 1969 as a player. So it was great to have Bryan here as a first year coach have such great success. He did really well," Dennis said.
From the start of the season Dennis, Harris and assistant coach Derek Nicholson, who Dennis feels really developed the hitters on this squad, felt they could make some noise. But the team had to perform on both sides of the ball.
'Early on we knew we had something special defensively. The team had to really come together and play well thought to score runs and they did. This one of the best team groups that we’ve had in Fairbanks," Dennis said.
David Fletcher received the Golden Glove and Top Pro Prospect award. Fletcher is a senior from Cypress Prep in California.
Bryan Harris, in his first season as head coach for the Goldpanners received the Coach of the Year award.
First Team Selections: First baseman Alex Rubanowitz, Starting Pitcher Nathan Bannister, Relief Pitcher Cody Moffett, relief pitcher Kevin Sprague
Second Team Selections: Second and Third baseman David Edwards, Shortstop David Fletcher, DH Casey Munoz, Starting Pitcher Mikey Ramirez, Relief Pitcher Matt Milke