Panners strike gold with newcomers, sweep Waves in double-header action
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The previous five days ahead of the Alaska Goldpanners’ double-header Thursday were less than ideal. They fell to the Orange County Riptide on Saturday, before dropping their contest with Berkovich 35 to begin the Denali State Bank Tournament on Sunday. The organization had to then cancel Monday and Tuesday’s games due to positive COVID-19 cases within the team. As they were set to return to action Wednesday, a torrential downpour combined with thunder and lightning was enough to call off the game.
That set up a double-header with the San Diego Waves Thursday, with the Panners welcoming in several new faces (though masked) this week and things began to turn around. Six players made their Fairbanks-debut, with five playing their first game in a Goldpanners uniform - and every single one of them contributed in game one of the twin bill.
In his first plate appearance as a Goldpanner, Kaden Hogan, of UC Davis hit a lead off single to spark the offense for Fairbanks. He would go on to take advantage of a Waves error to score his the first run.
Garrett Cooper, of Fresno Pacific University, got his first base hit and scored a run in the contest.
Blake Fitzgerald, of UC San Diego, reached base twice, including a single while catching behind the plate on defense.
Bobby Brown, who stayed in Fairbanks after competing for Berkovich 35 at the recent tournament, collected a hit, was walked, and scored a run as a designated hitter.
Though he had pitched for the Goldpanners earlier this season on the road, Tyler Franks was brilliant on the mound in his Fairbanks debut, allowing just one hit over three innings while striking out six to earn the save.
Luke Glascoe, also of UC San Diego, roped an RBI triple in the fourth inning while scoring two runs.
All of theses contributions led to a 6-2 Goldpanners win in 7 innings.
“I love it here,” Glascoe said after arriving in Fairbanks the day before his Goldpanner debut. “The weather is beautiful, it was a little weird coming into the COVID situation, but we have taken care of our protocols. I hadn’t heard a lot [about the Goldpanners], but I know from my college a couple guys have come out and played out here, so they were saying good things, so I was excited.”
Augusto Pineda got his first win of the season, allowing three hits, two earned runs, while striking out three in four innings of work.
Game two of the double-header was also all Goldpanners, as five runs in the second inning was more than enough in a 6-0 shutout victory over the Waves. Grady Morgan hit a two-run single, while catcher David Martin collected a pair of hits, including an RBI triple in the fifth inning. Newcomers contributed once again in game two, as Fitzgerald, Glascoe and Hogan each batted in a run in victory.
“It was great,” head coach Anthony Ferro said of the newcomers. “We had some more quality at bats with some of the newer guys. It is a process, we have a lot of games to go, we’ll see if we can count on them consistency wise.”
Sam Brady, of Kansas, had an impressive five-inning outing, allowing just two hits, no runs and sitting down five batters, while Christopher Tonna, closed the deal with the save.
The Goldpanners and Waves will go at it one more time Friday, before a day off on Saturday. Alaska will then welcome the Everett Merchants for a Father’s Day game Sunday ahead of the much anticipated Midnight Sun Game Monday.
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