PALMER — Mat-Su Miners outfielder Justin Kirby recently earned Freshman All-American honors. Friday night, the Kent State product showed Miners fans a few reasons why he received the top honor.
Kirby scored the game-tying run in the bottom of the fifth and notched a big double play in the following inning to help the Miners score a 5-3 win over the Anchorage Glacier Pilots at Hermon Brothers Field in Palmer.
With the game knotted at 3, Kirby stretched out in right field and made a diving catch and the throw to first to complete the double play in the top of the sixth inning.
“That was a game-changer. That really kind of swayed everything our way,” Miners head coach Tyler LeBrun said following the win.
Kirby was also named the Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year following his first season of college baseball. He hit .313.
“He’s a special guy,” LeBrun said of Kirby.
Kirby also helped Mat-Su bounce back quickly from the season-opening loss to Chugiak on Wednesday and score its first victory of the 2019 summer season.
“It’s good to get one under our belt. Wednesday was obviously frustrating for us,” LeBrun said. “We battled to get this win. I’m proud of our guys.”
Catcher Sam Thompson, Kirby’s teammate at Kent State, delivered the go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth, using a single to drive in Anthony Notaro.
Notaro gave Mat-Su the early lead, with a two-run single in the first.
“Anthony had a big knock for us and Sam had a big knock for us to give us the lead,” LeBrun said.
Alabama product and Miners first baseman Drew Williamson also drove in a run for the second straight game. Williamson has three doubles, two RBI and two runs during his first two games with the Miners.
After allowing 10 runs in the season opener, the Mat-Su pitching staff combined to allow only six hits and three earned runs against the Pilots. Anchorage scored all three of its runs in the top of the fifth.
“Anytime you put up that many zeroes it’s a good day,” LeBrun said.
Blake Peyton worked two innings of scoreless relief and earned the win on the mound. Jacob McNairy notched the save.
Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman managing editor Jeremiah Bartz at firstname.lastname@example.org.