It was a perfect 68 degree night in Fairbanks, Alaska for game one of Kingsmen Baseball’s weekend series against the Goldpanners. With four nine inning games to be played in four consecutive days, utility man Ryan Fluharty got the start for the Kingsmen in what would be a bullpen game.
After struggling with command in the first inning, the incoming freshman at USC-Upstate bounced back in the second getting three quick fly outs. With two quick outs in his third inning of work, though, Fluharty walked a batter before allowing an RBI double that gave the Goldpanners a 1-0 lead. Following a mound visit, Fluharty got a first pitch fly out to center to end the inning and avoid further damage.
As an answer, the Kingsmen wreaked havoc on the basepaths in the fourth. Third baseman Bryce Frederick drew a one-out walk and advanced all the way to third base on a wild pitch. Another wild pitch would score Frederick with catcher Nick Solorzano moving up to second after he was hit by a pitch. A strikeout and a groundout would end the inning, but not before the Kingsmen tied the game at one.
Ball State’s Blake Bevis would take over for Fluharty in the fourth, but struggled with command in his first inning on the mound. After retiring the first batter he faced, Bevis walked two, allowed a base knock, and hit a batter before being lifted by Coach Joe Hudak. Matthew Gross would come on to finish the inning, but not before the Goldpanners retook the lead, 2-1.
The fifth inning saw relatively little action for both teams, but the Goldpanners struck again in the sixth. Gross was able to record two quick outs to begin the frame, but allowed two Goldpanners to reach on a hit by pitch and a walk. That would spell the end for the righty who would give way to Nick George. The incoming freshman at Fairmont State lost a battle to his first hitter who lined a single up the middle to plate two Goldpanners. George would then pick up a strikeout to end the inning, but the Goldpanners would enter the seventh with a 4-1 lead.
In the top of the seventh, Mikah Conner’s RBI double would cut the Kingsmen deficit to two, while the team began to threaten again in the eighth. Jack Davis and Aidan Rice walked to start the inning and were followed by a base hit to center by Cam Troyer. With the bases loaded, Frederick smoked a ball to right, but it was not deep enough to score a run. The next batter, Solorzano, grounded into an inning-ending double play and the score remained 4-2, Goldpanners.
Similar to the eighth inning, the top of the ninth included dramatics as the Kingsmen loaded the bases while being down to their last out. With the tying run in scoring position, though, Rice struck out looking at a knee high fastball to end the game. With the 4-2 loss, the Kingsmen moved to 4-1 on the summer with three games left to play against the Goldpanners before heading home to Rock Hill.
Stay tuned for more Kingsmen news and updates as the season rolls on.
Coach Joe Hudak Postgame Interview: