The final home series of the season for Kodiak Post 17 wasn’t an enjoyable one.
Chugiak, the high school state champions and Alaska's top legion team, swept a four-game set against Kodiak at Baranof Field, winning Saturday’s league games 8-1 and 8-2, and taking both nonleague games, 18-2 and 4-3.
Post 17 enters its final four games of the regular season on a three-game losing skid that has left the Bears at 8-6 and battling for a berth to the state tournament.
With 38 points, Kodiak is tied with Fairbanks 30 for eighth — the top eight teams in the standings qualify for the state tournament that begins July 28 at Mulcahy Stadium in Anchorage. The other seven squads will play in the Matson Lines Tournament that begins on the same day at Bartlett High School.
Kodiak hopes it isn’t left out of the state tournament for the second straight year. Last year, Post 17 was edged by South Anchorage, 3-1, in a winner-to-state game on the final day of the season.
Kodiak will most likely need to split its final four games — Ketchikan (Thursday), two with the Valley (Friday) and South (Saturday) — to remain in the hunt for a trip to state.
“I like our chances,” Post manager Leonard Pickett said. “I’m still very confident in this team and what we can do. I’m feeling pretty good with where we are sitting right now.”
Kodiak looked flat against Chugiak, which improved to 14-0 in league games — its only loss of the season came against a Lower 48 team in the BP Tournament in Anchorage.
The Bears committed a season-high eight errors in Saturday’s opener, which lead to six unearned runs. Post 17 out-hit Chugiak, 5-3, but couldn’t overcome the miscues and 10 free bases — six walks and four hit batters — from the pitching staff.
“I’m still scratching my head about that one,” Pickett said. “We had been playing some pretty clean baseball the last couple of weeks and that kind of unexpectedly showed up. Hopefully we got that out of our system and we can go back to the way we had been playing.”
Sam Bennett was one of the few bright spots for Kodiak. The lefty leadoff hitter smacked his first career home run in the third inning that cut the deficit to 6-1. He added a single in the sixth and pitched one-hit ball over seven innings, while striking out six.
Frank Carlson also hit a pair of singles, while Brandan Pickett collected Kodiak’s other hit.
Chugiak starter Matt Hess worked around seven walks in 6 1/3 innings. Post 17 stranded 12 base runners and left at least one runner on base in every inning but one, which included leaving the bases loaded in the fifth.
“We knew that we had to play near-perfect baseball to beat them,” Pickett said. “We just didn’t get it done.”
Kodiak jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning of the second game of the twinbill. Carlson laced a single that scored Bennett and came around to score on an error.
Chugiak starter Jimmy Lanier settled down after that, allowing only one hit — a single to Joe Mauer in the fifth — over the next six innings, while striking out six.
The Mustangs scored on an error in their half of the first and then plated three in the second and four in the third. Jake Kindred broke the game open with a three-run double in the third that gave Chugiak an 8-2 lead.
Pickett gave up all eight runs — seven earned — on six hits. He walked five and struck out three in 2 2/3 innings. Luke James finished, allowing only one hit in 3 1/3 shutout innings.
Five Kodiak pitchers combined to hit nine batters and walk six more in an 18-2 loss on Friday that was called in the fifth inning via the mercy rule.
Carlson lined a run-scoring double in the first, while Mitchell Kane legged out a run-scoring triple in the fifth.
Sunday’s contest was the closest of the four as Kodiak fell 4-3.
Trailing 4-0, Kodiak cut the deficit in half in the fifth on singles from Pickett and James. John Norton added a sacrifice fly in the seventh.
Norton started and went four innings. He gave up one hit, walked four, hit four and struck out three. Shaun Walton pitched the final three innings, allowing two hits and striking out one.
Derek Clarkston is a staff writer at the Kodiak Daily Mirror. Contact him at (907) 486-3227, ext. 625.
MUSTANGS 8, BEARS 1
Chugiak 231 1000 010 — 8 3 4
Kodiak 001 000 000 — 1 5 8
Hess, Lindberg (7) and Straub; Bennett, Martinez (8) and Walton.
RBI: Chugiak — Lekites, Straub, Lindberg, Kindred. Kodiak — Bennett. Home run: Kodiak — Bennett. Triple: Chugiak — Kindred. Two hits: Chugiak — Kindred. Kodiak — Bennett, Carlson.
Winning pitcher — Hess (struck out five, walked seven). Losing pitcher — Bennett (struck out six, walked five).
MUSTANGS 8, BEARS 2
Kodiak 200 000 0 — 2 2 2
Chugiak 134 000 x — 8 7 1
Pickett, James (3) and Walton; Lanier and Straub.
RBI: Kodiak — Carlson. Chugiak — Lekites 2, Kindred 3, Neal. Double: Chugiak — Kindred, Lekites.
Winning pitcher — Lanier (struck out six, walked two). Losing pitcher — Pickett (struck out three, walked five).
MUSTANGS 18, BEARS 2
Chugiak 611 37 — 18 8 2
Kodiak 100 01 — 2 3 5
Hall, Nevells (4) and Neal; Carlson, Walton (1), James (4), Mauer (5), Schactler (5) and Martinez.
RBI: Chugiak — Lekites, Hess 4, Neal, Phearson 3. Kodiak — Carlson, Kane. Double: Chugiak — Straub, Hess. Kodiak — Carlson. Two hits: Chugiak — Lekites, Hess.
Winning pitcher — Hall (struck out three, walked three). Losing pitcher — Carlson (struck out one, walked two).
MUSTANGS 4, BEARS 3
Chugiak 011 020 0 — 4 3 1
Kodiak 000 002 1 — 3 3 3
Nevells, Phearson (4), Lindberg (5), Kindred (7) and Neal. Norton, Walton (5) and Martinez.
RBI: Chugiak — Kindred, Hall. Kodiak — Pickett, James, Norton. Double: Chugiak — Hess.
Winning pitcher — Nevells (struck out two, walked two). Losing pitcher — Norton (struck out three, walked four).