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Western Nevada coach likes what he sees in Alaska pitchers

D.J. Whittemore isn’t involved with the oil business, but the Western Nevada College baseball coach has tapped into the Alaska pipeline to strike it rich.

First it was Juneau’s Dylan Baker, who has graduated to pro ball in 2012.

Then it was Anchorage’s Max Karnos, who anchored the pitching staff last season as a freshman.

Now newcomer Johny Meszaros of Anchorage has joined the team.

Karnos, of South High fame, is a valuable and versatile piece of the puzzle that developed into the team’s workhorse. He led Western Nevada with 75.1 innings pitched and three complete games to go along with a 5-2 record and 3.58 ERA.

“Max came to us a confident and polished pitcher that experienced a great deal of success at all levels of youth baseball,” Whittemore told me. “He was a strike thrower when he arrived on campus and we set off to work to improve the quality of his stuff. He worked hard and improved his velocity 3 to 5 mph, and also developed a breaking ball that was college average from almost non-existent at the start of the year.”

Karnos started 12 of his first 13 games before he was moved to the bullpen for the playoffs. When Western Nevada beat Salt Lake 5-0 to reach the Scenic West Athletic Conference finals, it was Karnos that closed it out with two shutout innings.

“Max is capable of pitching in any role – as is almost every pitcher,” Whittemore said. “Throwing quality pitches is the art of starting or relieving. The role of 'closer' doesn’t really exist in our program. We have relievers that generally pitch when the game is the most tense and at the most crucial moments.”

The 6-foot-4, 205-pound right-hander has a strong sinking fastball that helped him average nearly seven strikeouts per game.

“The chief difference between a starter versus a reliever is the ability of a reliever to erase inherited runners via the strikeout,” Whittemore said. “Starters need to be strike throwers that can keep their pitch count down and get outs without velocity.”

Meszaros, 19, did not play college baseball in 2014, although it was only a year ago that he was picked in the 39th round of the MLB Draft by the Tampa Bay Rays.

The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder righty is ripe with potential.

“Johny is a hard worker that has a clear goal in mind. He is educated in the art of pitching and has confidence as well,” Whittmore said. “His maturity as a student, person, and pitcher is growing each day and it will be fun to continue to watch his development.”

Meszaros, of Service High fame, has been limited since his arrival to Western Nevada because of some inflammation in his elbow.

“He needs to throw strikes to be successful. His fastball is good to great and comes out of his hand very easily and with some life. The key for him to be successful is command of the baseball,” Whittmore said. “He certainly has the breaking ball and the body of a professional pitcher.”

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

Alaska Baseball Academy goes 3-2 at Arizona Fall Classic

The Alaska Baseball Academy closed out the annual Arizona Fall Classic in style, winning a pair of games to finish the showcase tournament with a 3-2 record.

The Alaska all-stars beat Mountain West Baseball Academy out of Utah 5-4 and then let the bats rip in a 7-3 win over a highly touted Colorado Rockies scout team.

In the win over Utah, pitchers Nathan Klein of Juneau and Nolan Monaghan of Wasilla each threw four innings while Bartlett’s Logan Williams pitched the final inning for the save.

Ketchikan's Nathan Bonck delivered at the plate with three of his team’s 11 hits, including a double. South’s Willy Homza and Eagle River’s Mike Rosenberg each had two hits.

In the nightcap, the Alaskans clubbed 16 hits to beat Colorado. Williams, Rosenberg and both Homza boys [Willy and Jonny] all collected a pair of hits.

Eagle River’s RJ Derscherl picked up the win on the mound with an assist from his relievers Palmer’s Elias Stratton and Williams.

The Alaska Baseball Academy split a two-game series the day before, beating Baseball Northwest of Oregon 2-1 before losing a 5-4 decision to Team California in 10 innings.

The ABA team is made of some of the best high school baseball players in the 907.

The team won three of five games and posted a team ERA of 2.40. Here is a breakdown:

Tommy Koloski 5IP 5Ks 1ER South

Nolan Monaghan 5IP 3Ks 2ER Wasilla

Joe Fitka 5IP 4Ks 3ER Dimond

Nathan Klein 5IP 4Ks 2ER Juneau-Douglas

Elias Stratton 3IP 1K 1ER Palmer

Josh Fetko 2IP 1K 3ER Service

RJ Dirscherl 4IP 3Ks 2ER Eagle River

Julito Fazzini 2IP 2Ks 2 ER South

Logan Williams 2IP 4Ks 0R Bartlett

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

All-stars Bonck, Homza turning heads at Arizona Fall Classic

A smooth-hitting first baseman from Ketchikan and a slick-fielding shortstop from Anchorage are gaining the most attention among a group of Alaska Baseball Academy players participating in this week’s Arizona Fall Classic.

Ketchikan’s Nathan Bonck has hit and pitched well while Anchorage’s Willy Homza has fielded beautifully and held his own at the plate, each drawing interest from professional and college scouts.

Bonck shined against the Diamondbacks of British Columbia, pitching two innings of scoreless relief in last night’s 1-0 loss. 

“He wasn’t throwing super hard, mid-80s, but he’s a big 6-5 lefty up there throwing free and easy,” ABA director Tony Wylie told me.

Bonck has the same relaxed look at the plate. He crushed a triple to provide Alaska with its best scoring opportunity. 

“He’s got a really pretty left-handed swing with bat speed,” Wylie said.

Pro scouts are keen on Bonck while the college guys like Homza.

“He’s getting a lot of looks, especially from Ivy League schools,” Wylie said. “He’s a switch hitter, a smooth fielding shortstop.”

Homza and Eagle River’s Mike Rosenberg were selected to play in the prestigious Arizona Fall Classic Academic game, which is open only to players with a 3.5 GPA and SAT score of 1,700 or better.

“I gave the kids a speech about the importance of grades and how that helps create leverage because if schools are competing for you, it’s going to provide a better opportunity and there’s a higher probability of getting your college paid for,” Wylie said.

“We stress the importance of the classroom. That’s why we’re here, to help kids get into school. But they can help themselves. Our job is between the lines. Their job is in the classroom.”

Both Bonck and Homza banged out base hits in today’s 2-1 win in seven innings over Baseball Northwest of Oregon. South’s Jonny Homza, Juneau’s Nathan Klein and Wasilla’s Nolan Monaghan also collected hits for Alaska.

ABA manufactured runs after Bartlett’s Logan Williams was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and South’s Julito Frazzini plated the winning run thanks to an RBI groundout.

On the mound, South’s Tommy Koloski started and pitched five innings before giving way to relievers Josh Fetko of Service and Monaghan.

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

Frost pitches, misses cut at Women’s National Team Trials

They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but the only jewelry Lauren Frost of Eagle River is interested is championship rings.

Frost is Alaska’s greatest women’s baseball player and among the best in the country.

The 17-year-old this week participated at the USA Baseball Women’s National Team Trials in Malibu, Calif., where she among the top 40 players to play in a three-game series that determined final roster spots.

Frost started Game 1 and pitched well, but unfortunately she didn’t make the final cut. That shouldn’t take the shine away from her accomplishment of being invited to the national team trials for the second straight year, though.

She is our Mo’ne Davis.

Frost, of Eagle River High fame, is an all-star infielder and No. 2 hitter who was voted to the all-state team during the American Legion season and was selected to the USA Today’s All-Alaska baseball team for the high school season.

The 5-foot-8 right-hander has a pony tail and can play both middle infield positions. She can bunt and is as fundamentally sound as most Alaska boys baseball players.

Frost has already committed to play NCAA D1 softball at powerhouse Stanford University in 2015. But until then, her focus is baseball.

At the National Team Trials, she played for the Blue team and started Game 1. She didn’t allow a run until the fourth inning and then wiggled out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam. Her team eventually won 2-1, but she earned a no decision.

Frost is entering her senior season of high school.

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

Baker becomes 8th Alaska pro pitcher to reach double digits

Juneau right-hander Dylan Baker has moved into elite company among Alaska’s best professional pitchers by picking his 10th career win.

It may not seem a lot but only eight Alaskans have reached double figures in minor league baseball. We’ve never had anybody win a game in the major leagues among the three pitchers that made it.

Baker improved to 3-2 on the season after the Carolina Mudcats beat Myrtle Beach 6-5 in Class A Advanced action. He didn’t have his best stuff but still got the win, scattering five hits and three walks across 5.1 innings.

Baker is now 10-9 with a 3.86 ERA in 42 career starts in the minors.

All-time wins by Alaska pitchers in minor pro leagues:

62 - Marshall Boze, Soldotna

30 - Chris Mabeus, Soldotna

30 - Matt Way, Sitka

27 - Ryan Shaver, Fairbanks

24 - Joey Newby, Soldotna

19 - Corey Madden, Anchorage

11 - Chad Bentz, Juneau

10 - Dylan Baker, Juneau

1 - Next Page

Current Standings

Alaska Legion AA American Division
Team Points League Overall
Wasilla Post 35 63 15-3 24-7
Service Post 28 57 13-5 20-8-1
y-Dimond Post 21 54 12-6 21-14
y-Juneau Post 25 51 11-7 21-13
x-South Post 4 48 10-8 19-14-1
Ketchikan Post 3 39 7-11 10-20
East Post 34 33 5-13 11-19
West Post 1 06 0-18 2-26


Alaska Legion AA National Division
Team Points League Overall
Chugiak Post 33 57 13-5 20-13
Eagle River 57 13-5 18-10
Kenai Post 20 54 12-6 17-12
Kodiak Post 17 48 10-8 14-14
y-Fairbanks Post 30 45 9-9 17-14
Bartlett Post 29 42 8-10 15-18-1
Fairbanks Post 11 32 5-13 11-20
Palmer Post 15 21 1-17 1-25-1


x-clinched Northwest Regional berth in Eugene [OR]

y-clinched NWCART berth in Anchorage

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