Chinooks finish ABL season at home

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 - 22:42

A spirited crowd sent the Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks to a warm send-off Monday at Lee Jordan Field in Chugiak.

With the field’s namesake on hand to help sing “Take me Out to the Ballgame” and players sticking around afterward to sign autographs for any kid who wanted one, it was easy to forget the 4-0 defeat the hometown nine suffered in its final game of a 17-27 Alaska Baseball League campaign.

The Chinooks finished in last place in the five-team league, 12 games behind the regular-season champion Mat-Su Miners. The summer team made up of collegiate baseball players from across the country played well early in the season but faded late, winning just three of their final 10 games.

In the season finale, the Chinooks got just three hits off Bucs starter Cayne Ueckert, who threw seven innings of shutout ball before turning things over to a bullpen that retired the final six Fish in order of appearance at the plate.

Despite finishing in the cellar, the Chinooks had several players who made their mark as individuals this summer.

Among Chugiak-Eagle River hitters, Point Loma Nazarene University’s Micah Pries led the team with a .308 batting average, good enough to rank sixth in the wood-bad league. Pries also drove in 16 runs and finished sixth in the ABL in hits with 41. The Masters University slugger Aaron Shackelford also had a productive season in Alaska, hitting three home runs and driving in 19 runs in 152 at bats. Mercer University’s Brandon Michie also hit three dingers for the Chinooks and led the team with 22 RBI. Auburn University speedster Jeremy Johnson led the Chinooks with 10 stolen bases on the season to go along with a .273 average and 16 RBI.

Southern Wesleyan University righthander Mike Batten was the Chinooks’ ace this season, leading the team in wins (3), strikeouts (39) and ERA (3.35). Battens totals in each category were good enough to place him in the top six in all three statistical categories. Chugiak-Eagle River reliever J.J. Julian (Southern Wesleyan) posted a stellar 2.73 ERA in 19 appearances, striking out 37 batters in just 26.1 innings pitched. Also notching a solid year was East Tennessee State’s Daniel Sweeney, who finished with a 2-2 record and a 3.75 ERA in 38.1 innings of work.

The Chinooks closed out their final week of the season with a road trip to the Kenai Peninsula, where they lost 8-2 Thursday, picked up a pair of wins in a doubleheader Saturday and split the four-game series with a 14-5 loss Saturday, July 29. The team returned to Anchorage for a 4-3 loss to the Bucs on July 30 at Mulcahy Stadium before finishing up the year in Chugiak.

The Chinooks failed to reach the two-team ABL playoff, which featured the Miners against the third-place Pilots playing to reach the NBC World Series later this month in Kansas.

For more information on the Alaska Baseball League, visit www.alaskabaseballleague.org.

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