AK Legion eyes expansion
Local nines start BP Invitational today at Mulcahy Stadium
Eagle River Wolves reliever Trent Talley delivers a pitch against Service on July 1 at Loretta French Park.
Juneau fielded an American Legion AA team this year for the first time in more than a decade.
The league is hoping that trend will continue.
Last week, the league announced it is seeking to add AA teams for the 2014 season. New teams are being considered in Palmer, Kodiak, Ketchikan and a second squad in Fairbanks.
All have fielded teams in the past, but that was between 10 and 20 years ago, according to Steve Nerland, president of the Alliance for Support of American Legion Baseball.
Currently, there are 12 AA Legion teams. The Mat-Su Valley and Fairbanks have just one team each, Kodiak is one of 10 teams playing at the A level and Ketchikan doesn’t have team.
The league targeted those areas because of their past involvement in Legion baseball, Nerland said, and each city has expressed an interest in adding new teams.
Sitka, Homer, Valdez and Seward also had Legion teams in the past, Nerland said, and the league is hopeful they will again in the future.
“We’d like to see interest in those areas,” he said.
Wanting new teams to join is the first step in a long process, Nerland said, as coaches are needed and travel funds must be raised.
“There has to be local interest in it,” he said.
A driving force behind the expansion is that 30 high schools have baseball teams, Nerland said.
“That tells you that there are areas that are not being served by American Legion,” he said.
Legion rosters must be capped at 18 players, Nerland said, making growth impossible without adding new teams.
Once the season ends in August, the league will reach out to the cities that expressed an interest in fielding new teams, Nerland said. The expansion teams will be announced before the end of the year, he said.
An influx of new teams could alter the format for next season. Depending on how many teams are added, the league might break up into two divisions, Nerland said.
BP Invite starts today
Both Chugiak and Eagle River are competing in the BP Invitational, which starts today (July 11) at Mulcahy Stadium.
The Wolves open today against Dimond at 7 p.m.
Chugiak plays Dimond on Friday, July 12 at 5 p.m. before taking on Texas at 7:30 p.m. The Mustangs played East on Wednesday, July 10, but a score was not available when the Star went to press.
The crosstown rivals meet Saturday, July 13 at 11:45 a.m. Eagle River then plays Texas at 2:15 p.m. on Saturday.
The crossover round begins Sunday, July 14 with the championship slated for 7:30 p.m.
Eagle River resumes its regular season schedule Monday, July 15 against East at 6:30 p.m. at Loretta French Park.
Chugiak hosts a doubleheader against Service on Tuesday, July 16 starting at 3 p.m.
Eagle River vs. South
Eagle River fell to 7-10 in the conference and 12-13 overall after South swept a doubleheader over the Wolves on Tuesday, July 9 at Taylar Young Memorial Field.
South blanked Eagle River 6-0 in the first game before edging the Wolves 10-9 in the second game.
Dimond 8, Eagle River 7
Dimond scored on a passed ball to edge Eagle River 8-7 in the final day of the Todd Ryan Memorial Tournament in Wasilla on Sunday, July 7.
Napoleon, Ohio, defeated Service 8-3 to win the championship.
Service 17, Eagle River 7
The Cougars scored nine runs in the sixth inning to earn a 17-7 win over Eagle River on Saturday, July 6 in the Todd Ryan Memorial Tournament.
Colby LeBlanc had three hits and scored three runs for the Wolves.
Ohio 6, Eagle River 1
Napoleon, Ohio, held Eagle River to four hits in a 6-1 in Friday, July 5 at the Todd Ryan Memorial Tournament. Ricky Ayala had a pair of hits for the Wolves.
Eagle River 13, Dimond 9
Eagle River scored eight runs in the first inning en route to a 13-9 win over Dimond in the opening round of the Todd Ryan Memorial Tournament in Wasilla on July 4.
R.J. Dirscherl, Colby LeBlanc and Lauren Frost all doubled for the Wolves. Trent Talley earned the win.
Wolves sweep Service
The Wolves won a pair of one-run games over Service on July 1 at Loretta French.
David Fuller threw a complete game five-hitter in a 3-2 win in the first game. Colby LeBlanc provided the game-winning hit with and RBI single in the seventh inning.
Eagle River overcame a six-run deficit to earn a 12-11 win in the second game. Michael Rosenberg drove in the winning run.
Fuller went 3-for-4 with two doubles and drove in three runs for the Wolves, who had 16 total hits. Kyle Frost and Greg Long each had two hits and two RBI’s, and Christian Fabacher had a pair of hits and three RBI’s for Eagle River.