Chugiak Post 33 finishes second at state
Chugiak Post 33 was four outs away from winning its seventh state title, but Kenai Post 20 wouldn’t settle for second.
The Twins defeated Chugiak twice Saturday, Aug. 4 to win the American Legion AA State Tournament championship at Mulcahy Stadium.
In the first game, Kenai used a five-run, two-out rally in the bottom of the eighth inning to hand Chugiak an 8-7 loss — the Mustangs’ first of the tournament — and force a winner-take-all championship, which Kenai won 11-4.
“There’s a reason why they’re a No. 1 seed,” Chugiak manager Bill Lierman said of a Twins team that won seven straight games after losing their opener 6-0 to Eagle River. “You’ve got to give them credit.”
The win gave Kenai its third state crown and first since 1995. The Twins’ first state title came in 1991.
Chase Wilson went 3-for-5 with 4 RBIs and scored a run to lead Chugiak in Game 1. Conner Cimmiyotti, Deven Ferriss, Justin Schneider and Alex Bozzo each had two hits for the Mustangs.
Schneider pitched seven innings, giving up nine hits and three runs — one earned — and striking out four. Cameron Fritz got the loss, giving up three hits and five runs — four of them earned — in one inning.
In the second game, Chugiak couldn’t find its offense. The Mustangs managed just three hits to Kenai’s 14.
“They were hitting everything,” Cimmiyotti said.
Fritz couldn’t pinpoint a reason for the lack of offense.
“I don’t know why we couldn’t get anything going,” he said.
Chugiak held a 2-0 lead until the Twins erupted for six runs in the bottom of the fifth. Kenai added two more runs in the sixth and seventh innings and one in the eighth.
Chugiak committed seven errors between the two games — Kenai committed just one — and that was the difference, Cimmiyotti said.
“They played two perfect games,” he said. “That’s what you have to do to win ballgames.”
Despite the loss, Chugiak, which entered the tournament as the sixth seed, showed how good the Mustangs are, Fritz said.
“We exceeded most people’s expectations, he said. “We showed our program is still one of the top programs.”
Fritz, the lone 2011 graduate on the team, said losing in the championship didn’t tarnish his final year of Legion ball.
“I still had a lot of fun coming back,” he said. “To make it as far as we did was pretty awesome.”
Along with Fritz, Chugiak — which finished 17-19 overall — is losing Schneider and Brad Pospeck, both 2012 graduates. But, Cimmiyotti said, he and Chase Gall — both of whom graduated this year — will be back next season.
With a .962 fielding percentage, 19 assists and two double plays, Cimmiyotti won the Gold Glove award for the tournament. He shared the honor with Kenai’s Jake Darrow.
Eagle River’s David Fuller was named Outstanding Pitcher; the Big Stick award went to Kenai’s Josiah Covey; and Kenai’s A.J. Hull was named MVP.
Chugiak’s season isn’t over.
By finishing second, the Mustangs earned a trip Outside to the American Legion NWCART tournament in Burley, Idaho. Chugiak’s first game is set for Friday, Aug. 10 against Utah.
“I think it will be good for our guys,” Lierman said. “We’ll get after it.”
Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or [email protected]