As I mentioned in today’s Odds & Ends post, this was the fire true AIA home game of the year, and the first ever Alaska Baseball League game held in Chugiak or the Eagle River area. Considering this historic event occurred about 30 minutes from my place, I figured I’d better load up the van and go, and I’m glad I did because it was a pretty neat event.
This match-up between the Anchorage Glacier Pilots and AIA Fire took place at Loretta French Park, which is a public sports complex. As far as I know this was a one-off deal but I have heard rumors that the Fire were trying to put down some roots and possibly call this park home in the future. So the obvious question is, could it become a real ABL park? It has potential but I think it needs work. The field looked pretty decent but it looked like the players struggled with some tricky hops, so maybe not so much. It was obviously not designed to accommodate a lot of fans; the seating is limited and the lines of sight suck. Quite a decent crowd came in but many sat in supplied folding chairs or on their own blankets & camping seats. There was also no trainer facilities and an ambulance was on stand-by as a result; I don’t know if that would be sustainable over the course of the season.
One thing that I thought was really cool though is the outfield hill. The complex is sunk into a leveled area dug out of a hillside. As a result, there is an enormous embankment spanning from center to left field. Think about the little grassy hill areas popular for picnic-style seating in minor league and college ballparks you often see, and pump it full of steroids. The hill was dotted with families sprawled out on blankets and such; it was like nature’s bleachers. Really awesome. If it were developed and the weeds & alder trees whacked down a bit that could be a really cheap seating solution and give the place some character. So, anyway, I don’t know if it’s every going to happen. But with some volunteering and maybe a little money from the Municipality, it’s possible.
As for the game, it was a back and forth affair, with the Pilots striking first and the Fire answering back, only to have the Pilots put it out of reach by a final score of 7-4. It was a 7-inning non-league affair, and as you might imagine when there’s 11 runs over 7 innings, both teams used up a lot of pitchers.
The best pitcher for Pilots tonight might have been Stefan Crichton. He had a good repretoir of pitches, with a fastball and offspeed pitch, supplemented with what looked like a slider to me. He mixed his pitches well and seemed to be hitting his spots. The other half of the battery for the Pilots was Cael Brockmeyer behind the plate; this is a guy I’m liking a lot. He’s a big 6’5″ 220lb freshman and he flashed a great move to second base to nail a runner and end the second inning. His bat was also a big reason the Pilots won, with 2 hits and 3 RBIs to his credit. Another guy who looked really good at the plate was David Hall. He showed some really good patience at the plate to get himself aboard and ultimately score three times.
Speaking of good fielding arms, the Fire have a bunch of them. I’m talking about Scott Kalamar from right field, Chris Talley in left, and Marc Schoch behind the plate. Kalamar and Talley both fired rockets in from the field to nail some straying Glacier Pilots. Schoch made a bunch of moves to second base; he was successful once and could have gotten more runners out if it weren’t for the great speed of the Pilots. He also got a very solid two-strike hit in the third. I saw some good defense up the middle in Ryan Miller, who displayed some great range at SS, and Jerrod Eigsti who flashed some good soft-hands plays.
Photos! Got a bunch of ‘em. Video, I got none of, because the 8-foot-high chain link fence surrounding the place really cramped my style. But I got photos. My Picasa album has an even 100 of them (if you include some cute kid pics). You’re welcome to use them as long as you credit 49thstatehardball.com. Below are a few of my favorites.