Goldpanners outlast OC Riptide 12-10 in shootout

The NewsCenter 11 Weekend Team presents a report of local and national news events, along with the latest weather forecast and updates from the world of sports.
Updated: Jun. 12, 2021 at 5:26 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - In Thursday’s home-opener, the Alaska Goldpanners were on the winning end of a clean, 3-1 pitching duel against the Orange County Riptide that featured zero errors in the contest. On Friday night, it was a whole different ball game.

Both summer collegiate baseball teams exceeded their run total from the previous night by the end of the first inning. With one swing of the bat, OC jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first when Seth Beckstead launched a grand slam to ignite a busy night around the base paths. The Goldpanners would respond with four of their own, with the help of two wild pitches, a fielder’s choice and a Ryan Pierce RBI single.

Just getting started, the Riptide put up two more runs in the top of the second, but the Panners continued to respond. Noah Turley brought up Marco Pirruccello with a base hit, before Pierce, the hero in the home-opener, hit his second home run in as many days to put the Goldpanners on top 7-6 after just two frames.

After a scoreless third inning from Goldpanners’ starter Sam Brady, Stone Hewlett - of the University of Kansas - took over on the bump. Needing to cool off the OC bats, Hewlett pitched four scoreless innings, allowing just one hit while striking out four. That was enough of a buffer for the Goldpanners to plate a pair of runs in the fourth inning and three more in the sixth to take control 12-6. Down to their last three outs, OC made things interesting by scoring four runs in the top of the ninth, but the Panners would close the door there to claim the 12-10 victory.

“It was fun, it was good to be out there and it was nice I got some defense behind me. The fans are good I really enjoyed it,” said Hewlett, who got the win on the mound in his Fairbanks debut. “It is definitely a lot different than Kansas, I am on a weird sleep schedule right now, but t is a lot of fun, I like it, it is a great state, it is beautiful.”

Pierce produced much of the offense in this one, driving in five runs while scoring three times himself in a 4-5, 5 RBI performance. Grady Morgan collected a pair of hits, while Pirruccello, David Martin and Travis Warinner each provided one of 10 hits in victory. It may not have been pretty - with 22 total runs, 17 hits and six errors combined - but the Panners (5-2) have strung together four wins in a row.

“I think the chemistry is good right now, we are coming together,” head coach Anthony Ferro said after the victory. “The guys are coming together, but we just got to continue to grind, have fun and play the game as hard as we can.”

The Goldpanners will host the OC Riptide at 7 p.m. Saturday for the series finale, before taking on Berkovich 35 at 1 p.m. Sunday at Growden Park to kickoff the Denali State Bank tournament.

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