Numbing hands. Shivering lips. Freezing feet.
What were you expecting for April baseball in Kodiak? Short sleeves and sun glasses.
Kodiak opened its season in temperatures barely hovering above freezing and a constant dousing of rain and wind. All of the elements resulted in an 8-6 loss to Dimond on the first day of the Rex Edward Matautia Invitational Tournament on Wednesday at Baranof Field.
The umpires called the game after the fifth inning, sending players, coaches and brave spectators searching for a place to warm up.
Keeping players focused in stormy conditions provided a challenge for the coaches.
“They are Kodiak kids. They are tough,” Kodiak coach James Arnold said. “We have a little heater (in the dugout) to keep their hands warm, but the are a tough group of kids. We do a lot of traveling. Play in adverse weather and practice in this.”
It was only Dimond’s second time outside this season. The team arrived on the island two hours before first pitch and was ready to play 30 minutes after hitting the field.
“The important thing is to keep it light and keep reminding them that they could be back at the gym practicing instead of being in a tournament and playing other players,” Dimond coach Dan Montagna said.
Down 4-2 heading into the fifth and final inning, Dimond scored six runs off of Kodiak relievers Brandan Pickett and Giovanni Martinez.
The Bears out-hit the Lynx 5-2, but were done in by six errors, a part of the game that also plagued last year’s team that missed qualifying for state by a victory.
“We are not going to make any excuses,” Arnold said. “We have to make the routine play. Those errors we had were on us. We have to do a better job.”
Dimond tallied the first two runs via an error in the second and a run-scoring single by Kyle Hendrickson in the third off of Kodiak starter Jakob Arnold — the only hit the senior righty gave up in four innings. He finished with one strikeout and one walk.
“I was happy with our starting pitching,” James Arnold said. “He threw strikes and kept the ball in play.”
Kodiak got a run back in the third when Pickett reached on a walk and came around to score on an error.
The Bears then scored three in the fourth to take a 4-2 lead. Pickett roped a run-scoring single — his second of the game — and later scored on a fielder’s choice. Aaron Hocum, who reached on a walk, scored on a passed ball.
Kodiak fell to 1-2 all-time against Dimond. This was the first matchup between the two schools since the 2007 state tournament, a game the Bears won 6-4. Dimond won the first meeting 7-5 in 1994.
The Lynx jumped at the chance to be in the tournament that is in honor of Rex Matautia, a 13-year-old who drowned in Lake Gertrude in July 2013.
“The earlier you get out the better you are going to play in the regular season. It hard to practice in a gym, so it is hard to get that live pitching and that live game experience,” Montagna said. “We also have been up with Little League with some of these players who actually knew the kid that this tournament is for, so that is pretty cool.”
Chugiak 9, South 0
Zac Bruggerman delivered three hits to guide Chugiak past last year’s state runner-ups South Anchorage, 9-0, in the opening game of the tournament, which was played in better conditions than the nightcap.
Bruggerman came off the bench in the fifth inning and ripped a pair of doubles and a single to account for three of the Mustangs’ seven hits.
The right-hander teamed with starting pitcher Jim Lanier to no-hit South. Lanier pitched the first four frames and struck out four, while Bruggerman struck out three in the final three innings.
LYNX 8, BEARS 6
Dimond 011 06 — 8 2 2
Kodiak 001 32 — 6 5 6
Fitka, Andresen (3), Thorp (4) and Bremont. Arnold, Pickett (5), Martinez (5) and Chya.
RBI: Dimond — Micheletto, Hendrickson, Thorp. Kodiak — Pickett. Two hits: Kodiak — Pickett, Chya.
Winning pitcher — Thorp (struck out three, walked two). Losing pitcher — Pickett (struck out none, walked five).