BY EVAN PETTY
May 19, 2014
GROWDEN MEMORIAL PARK –
The Midnight Sun Goldpanners brought their lumber to the ballpark Monday evening. And the team moved to 3-0 on the young season after a rout of the defending champion, Fairbanks Brewers, 17-9.
But the matchup wasn’t decided until late. And both starting pitchers teased the fans into thinking this one could have been a pitching duel early. Steve Shaver and Connor Johnson each fanned two in their half of the first inning, and the game remained scoreless after one. Then things got interesting when the Brewers sent seven men to the plate in the bottom of the second to take a 3-0 lead.
But a Panner response, which ended up becoming a theme in this one, made it 3-2 in the top of the third. The Brewers scored two more of their own in the bottom of the inning when center fielder Curtis Wolf made a sensational diving catch with the bases loaded, only to throw it all the way to the backstop to allow a run to come home. A passed ball in the next at-bat brought home another Brew Crew run to make the score 5-2.
The Goldpanners put together a big inning of their own in the top of the fourth with four runs highlighted by a pinch-hit, 2-run single from Davy Baldwin. Wolf would add his third hit of the game later in the inning and finished the day a perfect 4-4 at the dish.
The big play came in the bottom of the inning when Marcus Johnson appeared to tag up on a fly ball to left field that would have given the Brewers a 7-6 lead. It was all for not, though, when the Goldpanners alertly elected to appeal the play at third base, which ended up becoming a double play. Johnson’s premature tag ended the inning with a double play that stranded additional runners on first and second.
The ‘Panners seized the momentum and didn’t look back. They added a run in the fifth after a triple followed by a sacrifice fly from first baseman Billy Jones, and then they proceeded to blow the game wide open with an 8-spot in the sixth.
Scooter Bynum would enter the game to lead off the inning with a single and later add his second hit of the inning when he beat the Brewer first baseman to the bag on a ground ball, a call the umpire appeared to have missed.
All-in-all, the Goldpanners tallied 19 hits to just five from the opponent.
Left fielder Daniel Ellis also made the play of the game in the bottom of the fifth when he laid out, full extension, to rob a Brewer of a clean single.
The web gem came with two men on base and vaulted the ‘Panners to their 8-run sixth, as they remained perfect through three games.