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Brown revitalizes college career as pitcher, 3-0 as PLU starter

When he was younger, Garrett Brown of Anchorage was one of the most promising pitchers in Alaska. Then he hurt his right arm and became a catcher.

He was good enough to land at spot at Pacific Lutheran University, but he never really ever settled in behind the plate. 

He belonged on the bump.

Brown is back on the mound and pitching better than ever. The junior starter has a 3-0 record and a tidy 2.53 ERA in 32 innings for the NCAA D3 school Washington.

“Honestly, I’m not extremely surprised about how I’ve pitched,” he told me. “I was always itching to get back on the mound and I thought I was never going to after my injury my senior year [of high school].

“My surgeon did an amazing job a year and half ago and he’s made it so I can pitch again. Obviously I miss catching, but I see myself as more of a pitcher.”

Brown, of Service High fame, is a big part of a 17-7 PLU team that is ranked No. 23 nationally.

The Lutes also feature Anchorage third baseman Tyler Thompson, who is hitting .333 in 22 games and leads the team with 3 home runs, 10 doubles and 48 total bases.

Brown and Thompson have played baseball together since they were 9 years old.

“It seems that every one of my starts he gets a couple big hits to help me out,” Brown said. “He’s having a huge year and it’s awesome to continue playing with him.”

Brown’s super season is even more impressive if you consider he hadn’t thrown a pitch in college before this year. Yet he has averaged a strikeout per inning, including 19 over his last two starts.

He had 10 Ks against Whitworth and fanned 9 against Whitman.

“The strikeouts come with locating pitches and getting ahead of batters,” he said. “I trust my defense so it makes me have confidence throwing any pitch.

“My pitching coach [Sean Taunt] is incredible and has helped me get to where I am. Without him, I would not be pitching like I am recently.”

This story was written by Van Williams, a freelance writer in Anchorage and the ALB Media Director.

Blue Mountain Alaskans come up clutch in 15-inning win in NWAC

Three Mat-Su Valley locals had their fingerprints all over the biggest win of the season for the Blue Mountain Community College baseball team.

The Timberwolves beat visiting Skagit Valley 7-6 in 15 innings thanks to clutch plays by Ben Ross and Jonathan Boyer of Wasilla, and Jacob Butcher of Palmer.

All three came up huge with the pressure cooker on full blast.

Ross delivered a pinch-hit, walk-off single; Butcher scored the winning run; and Boyer plated the tying run in the ninth inning to force extra innings. 

Boyer started in left field and finished 1-for-5 with two RBIs. With one out in the ninth, he drew a five-pitch walk with the bases loaded to tie the game at 5-5.

Butcher started in right field and also went 1-for-5. He scored twice, including in the 15th when he ripped a one-out single to give Blue Mountain runners at first and second.

With two down and the game tied at 6-6, the T-wolves called on a pinch hitter. Ross took ball one, strike one, ball two and then smacked the game-winning single to score his former Legion teammate for the walk-off victory.

This story was written by Van Williams, a freelance writer in Anchorage and the ALB Media Director.

Bashing backstop: Ferntheil breaks the mold for catchers

Most catchers don’t run fast enough or hit well enough to bat at the top of the order, but Stephen Ferntheil of Anchorage is different.

He is a bashing backstop.

The 23-year-old sophomore catcher at East Georgia State College is hitting leadoff and batting .371 in 20 games this year. He’s even got three stolen bases.

“I’m not blazing on the base paths, but I’m not slow either,” he told me.

Hitting leadoff has advantages, he said, like seeing more fastballs early in the count.

“It allows me to be more aggressive rather than having to wait for the perfect pitch,” he said. “Pitchers aren’t going to attack a leadoff hitter like they would the three, four hitter in the lineup.”

Ferntheil, of Service High fame, is hitting so well it wouldn’t matter where you put him. Dating back to last season, the 5-foot-11, 180-pounder is hitting .402 in the last 36 games in junior college.

The wear and tear of logging nine innings at the catcher position is so rigorous, so rugged, that most coaches don’t expect much offense. They’d rather a catcher focus on building defensive fundamentals, working with pitchers and learning a hitter’s tendencies.

“My dad said I could be a good defensive catcher, hit .100 and they’d be happy, just because it’s so difficult,” he said.

Ferntheil just makes it look easy. But he’s got here because of hard work.

“You gotta work hard on the field if you want to be a good hitter,” he said. “I spent hours and hours in the cage, hitting off the tee, off my brother. You have to put in work on the field.”

This story was written by Van Williams, a freelance writer in Anchorage and the ALB Media Director.

Chapman embracing new reliever role at Everett College

Everett Community College pitcher Dalton Chapman of Anchorage recently picked up his first save and later admitted he is growing accustomed to his new reliever role.

“Everybody wants to be a starter, that’s always the dream,” he told me. “But coming in as a closer is nice; it’s like, ‘Hey, you’re our dude. We need you.’ I like being that guy.”

The 6-foot-5 freshman right-hander has made four relief appearances this month. He has a 3.55 ERA with 15 strikeouts in 12.2 innings.

His outings have ranged from an inning to 5.1 innings. The day he got his save he pitched scoreless frames in the seventh, eighth and ninth to preserve a 4-2 win over Vancouver Island.

“Everything was just working. My fielders were making perfect plays,” he said. “I was getting those hitters to roll over or pop out.”

Chapman, of West High fame, has embraced his reliever role because he understands he might have to work his way out of the bullpen to be a starter.

“I want to work for it,” he said. “Growing up I always wanted to play baseball at the next level. This is what I live for. I’m having a blast. It’s awesome. I love it here.

“I’m learning more every day how to throw a ball better and what I can do to fix my mechanics. It’s honestly a lot of maturity, living on my own now. It’s a lot different. I’m learning how to be a grown up, basically.”

This story was written by Van Williams, a freelance writer in Anchorage and the ALB Media Director.

Ridley’s road back from torn ACL comes full circle at Dawson

Two years ago, Jake Ridley of Anchorage had his high school baseball career end after tearing his ACL in a freak knee injury during a post-game dog pile at home plate. 

It’s been a long road to reach home plate again, but the all-star shortstop is back on the field.

The freshman starter at Dawson Community College in Montana enjoyed a 15-for-30 hitting clip last week during a 9-game road trip through Kansas and Nebraska.

Six of his hits went for extra-bases, including his first college home run to right field. He also had five doubles.

“The home run felt great,” he told me. “I didn’t think I got all of it, but I had some help from the wind. It was a fastball, belt high and a little outside.”

Ridley, of Service High fame, missed the college season last year. He learned about Dawson College from high school teammate Conner Melton, a catcher on this year’s team.

The coach took a chance on Ridley and the Alaska infielder is paying off.

“I’d say I’m back to being 100 percent. It took a lot of work to get where I’m at right now as far as health,” he said. “I honestly try to find the good in my injury. By tearing my ACL, it made me work that much harder and it made me want it more.”

This story was written by Van Williams, a freelance writer in Anchorage and the ALB Media Director.

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Current Standings

Cook Inlet Conference
Team League
Bartlett 0-0
Chugiak 0-0
Dimond 0-0
Eagle River 0-0
East Anchorage 0-0
Service 0-0
South Anchorage 0-0
West Anchorage 0-0

 

Mid Alaska Conference
Team League
Delta Junction 0-0
Eielson 0-0
Hutchison 0-0
Lathrop 0-0
Monroe Catholic 0-0
North Pole 0-0
West Valley 0-0

 

Southcentral Conference
Team League
Colony 0-0
Cordova 0-0
Homer 0-0
Houston 0-0
Kodiak 0-0
Palmer 0-0
Soldotna 0-0
Valdez 0-0
Wasilla 0-0

 

Southeast Conference
Team League
Juneau-Douglas 0-0
Ketchikan 0-0
Sitka 0-0
Thunder Mountain 0-0
Wrangell 0-0

Schedules