CHUGIAK — After three extra-inning games and more than 40 frames in four days, all the Mat-Su Miners can do is simply sit and wait.
Mat-Su, 2-2 in Alaska Baseball League Tournament play, will have to wait until late tonight to see if the Miners earn one of the two coveted spots in the league championship series, slated to start Saturday afternoon in Anchorage.
“We have a pulse. We sit and wait, see what happens and go from there,” Miners field manager Ben Taylor said Thursday evening after his squad suffered a 10-5 loss to the Chugiak Chinooks at Loretta French Field in Chugiak.
ABL Tournament round-robin play ends today, with the Alaska Goldpanners meeting the Chinooks at 3 p.m., and the Anchorage Glacier Pilots facing the Anchorage Bucs at 7. Both games are at Mulcahy Stadium in Anchorage. The Pilots are 3-0 in the tournament and have advanced to the championship best-of-3 series. The Bucs, Panners and Chinooks are all 1-2 in the tournament. In order for the Miners to advance, both the Bucs and Panners need to lose today. The Bucs and Panners would each improve to 2-2 with a win, and would be tied with Mat-Su in the tournament standings. Chugiak would improve to 2-2 with a win over the Panners today. Final record in the regular season series is the tiebreaker. The Miners won the regular season series against Chugiak, but the Bucs and Panners both won their regular season series’ against the Miners.
“I know every guy in that clubhouse would like to put on a Miners uniform again,” Taylor said.
If either the Bucs or Panners win today, the Miners’ season would be over.
The Miners hit Loretta French Thursday afternoon after three roller coaster days worth of ABL tournament baseball, and only about 15 hours after leaving Mulcahy Stadium in Anchorage. Mat-Su’s Wednesday night contest went early into the morning, with the Miners earning a 6-4 win over the Alaska Goldpanners in 12 innings. Christin Stewart cracked a two-run homer in the top of the 12th to give the Miners the win. The game ended after 1 a.m.
“There was a bit of an emotional hangover. We might have run out of gas,” Taylor said. “That’s a big emotional swing.”
The win over the Panners marked the Miners’ third straight extra-innings game. The Anchorage Glaicer Pilots edged the Miners 8-7 in 11 innings Tuesday. The week, and tourney, began with a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over the Anchorage Bucs on Monday.
“It was a lot of fun to see the heart, the fight, the toughness we showed in all four games,” Taylor said of the Miners. “I was really a big treat to watch, fantastic for my team.”
Mat-Su erased deficits in the wins over the Bucs and Panners.
Wednesday, the Goldpanners jumped to a 2-0 first inning lead. The Miners managed to pull together nine hits, including four for extra bases, and Cody Ponce pitched four innings of relief to help Mat-Su earn the win. In the 12th, Nash Knight led off with a walk. Late in the inning, with two outs, Stewart lifted a ball over the Mulcahy fence to give the Miners the win.
“This is the fifth team I’ve skippered, and no question, this is the toughest team with the most resolve of any club I’ve had,” Taylor said.
Monday, Mat-Su scored runs in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game, and bottom of the 10th to win.