Wolves take third at state Legion tournament
Eagle River nearly pulled off its second upset over top-seeded Kenai Post 20, but the Twins had other plans.
Josiah Covey hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth inning to lift Kenai past Eagle River 9-8 on Friday, Aug. 3 in the American Legion AA State Tournament losers’ bracket final at Mulcahy Stadium.
Kenai went on to defeat previously unbeaten Chugiak twice Saturday, Aug. 4 to claim its third state title.
After six innings from starter Wesley Bennice, David Fuller entered the game in the seventh for Eagle River with the score tied 8-8.
Fuller — who was named Outstanding Pitcher for the tournament — threw a complete game shutout against the Twins six days earlier and went three innings in a 10-0 loss to Chugiak on Aug. 1. But head coach Gregg Frost didn’t think twice about sending Fuller in to try to shut down the Twins for a second time.
“I told him there was nobody else I’d want on the mound in that situation,” Frost said.
Zach Weller went 2-for-4, including a double, and drove in two runs for Eagle River. Ricky Ayala had one hit, two RBIs and scored twice. Kyle Frost drove in one run and scored twice for the Wolves.
Finishing third at state showed that the Wolves — who entered the tournament as the eighth seed out of 11 teams — are better than their record suggests, Weller said.
“Coming in, no one thought we’d do anything,” he said.
But that’s not the case anymore, Weller said.
“Teams aren’t going to be taking us lightly,” he said after the Wolves made their best-ever showing at state.
“Everybody respects us now.”
Eagle River, which finished the season 12-22 overall, entered state having lost 11 of its last 13 games. But, coach Frost said, the Wolves finished strong.
“Our goal at the start of the season was to end up where we were tonight,” he said.
Weller is the lone 2011 graduate on the team and only player not eligible to return next season, coach Frost said.
Weller said his final Legion season was his most enjoyable.
“It’s the most fun I’ve ever had playing baseball,” he said.
But Weller isn’t hanging up his cleats just yet. He said he’s hoping to walk on at Shippensburg (Penn.) University in the fall.
“I’m not ready to give up baseball yet,” Weller said.
Though Eagle River is potentially only losing Weller, the void left behind the plate is impossible to fill, coach Frost said.
“You can’t replace Zach,” he said.
Weller isn’t the only one who won’t be donning a Wolves’ uniform next season. Coach Frost is stepping down after five years with the program, the last two spent as head coach.
“The timing feels right,” coach Frost said. “I’ve been doing this for 20 years.”
But, coach Frost said, his decision wasn’t final.
“I never say never,” he said.
If he doesn’t lead the team next year, coach Frost — whose son and daughter are both on the team — said he’ll continue to be part of Eagle River baseball.
“I’ll never be done being involved with this program,” he said. “What my role will be, I don’t know.”
Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727.