Knik Intermediate Boys end pool play with 11-5 win over Arizona
As if the 90-degree weather of Nogales, Ariz., isn’t enough, members of the Knik Intermediate boys team are playing athletes who have focused on baseball and play the sport year round, hinted team manager Hal Froehle.
Froehle said the trip has been a whirlwind since leaving Anchorage in the early hours of July 15, after having the Alaska tournament less than 36 hours earlier.
Fortunately the team did get a couple of days to try to acclimate and to practice.
“We have been trying to hydrate the heck out of them,” said Froehle late Saturday, after the team had suffered their third consecutive loss, a lopsided affair to Nampa Valley, Idaho.
“The talent level down here is insane,” said Froehle, citing the pitching of opposing teams is at least 25 percent faster.
Intermediate baseball is in a trial year here in Alaska, with most games played on 200-215 foot fields. In the tournament, the fence is 70 feet further back in all three fields.
While the team’s offense has been off, Froehle said the team’s defense is what has been hitting Knik’s efforts the most.
“Let’s just say we have struggled defensively,” he said.
While the baseball community there has been warm and inviting, Froehle said the team is having a hard time being competitive against those team with dozens, if not hundreds of fans in attendance.
“We have five fans in the stands,” he said, adding that the players and coaching staff have been very vocal in trying to elevate the players’ spirits on the field.
“They know that they are the underdogs here,” he added. “But they have gone out there and they are trying.”
The coach credited Seth Hehl and Patrick Goodwill with a strong tournament so far, each with extra base hits.
The team’s best opportunity at a win came in the second game in pool play, said Froehle, when Knik jumped out to seven runs in the first inning, only to lose 19-8.
Pitcher Trystan Costanios was the game leader with 13 first-pitch strike, and finished with three strikeouts in less than three innings play before the game got away from Knik.
The team finished strong, however, defeating Arizona, 11-5 on Sunday, to finish 1-3 in the tournament.
Froehle said the victory was huge in lifting the spirits of the team.
“The boys feel great,” he said, taking a phone call moments after the game.
Starting pitcher Kody Froehle went the distance, seven innings, striking out six and dealing no walks, to keep Knik in the game.
“We played great defensively. We make the plays we were supposed to make. It was by far our best game defensively,” Froehle said.
Knik had big innings offensively as well, with four runs in the third, five in the fifth. Aaron Davis paced the team with three hits.
“We didn’t pound the ball. We just had timely hits,” said the coach.
Unfortunately the victory came a bit late with only the top two teams from each division advancing, leaving the team out of further play.
Now the team is looking to change their return flight from July 26 to July 22.
Knik Intermediate team members include Abel Davis, Aaron Davis, Charlie White, Chase McGraw, D.J. Davis, Gus Lewis, Jack Smith, Kody Froehle, Mason Piper, Patrick Goodwill, Seth Hehl and Trystan Costanios.