ANCHORAGE — The Wasilla Warriors needed only five innings to erase an 18-year drought.
Wasilla scored a 13-1 five-inning mercy rule win over Chugiak during the ASAA/First National Bank State Baseball Championships semifinals Friday night at Mulcahy Stadium in Anchorage. With the win, Wasilla moves into the state title game for the first time since 2001. The Warriors will face Ketchikan Saturday at 3 p.m. at Mulcahy in search of their first state title in program history.
“It’s amazing. I couldn’t feel better at the moment,” Wasilla senior Jacob Hansen said after the win.
At the beginning of the season, the Warriors didn’t realize the potential of this squad, Hansen said. But as the Warriors worked through the 2019 campaign, Hansen said he began to see what this team was capable of.
“At the beginning of the year, maybe not,” Hansen said of whether he thought the Warriors could play for a state title. “But at the end of the year, with the development of this team, yes for sure.”
Wasilla head coach Ken Ottinger said the success is the product of a program-wide effort.
“I give mass amount of credit to my coaching staff, my boosters, kids, parents, everybody,” Ottinger said. “It took a whole program to do this. I’m immensely proud.
“I can’t believe we’re going to the ‘ship.”
Wasilla, which averaged about 12 runs per game during Southcentral Conference play, hit double-digits in scoring for the second straight day in the state tourney. The Warriors opened with a 10-3 win over defending state champion Juneau-Douglas Thursday in the quarterfinals. Hansen said early in the season, the Warriors were concerned about their offense. Now that’s the least of their worries.’
“The whole lineup has been producing,” Hansen said.
Friday, all nine spots in the lineup were credited with at least one run scored. Seven different players finished with a hit. Five different Warriors scored at least one run.
For the second straight night, the Warriors jumped to an early lead. Wasilla held a 6-0 advantage after the first inning. The Warriors batted around in the first. Hansen, Wasilla’s leadoff hitter, reached twice in the first. He singled and was hit by a pitch.
“I think it destroyed their mindset and got us up,” Hansen said of the early lead.
Wasilla, which earned its fourth Southcentral Conference title in five years last week, drew five walks in the first. Ottinger said the Warriors played like they’ve played all year.
“Stayed patient and when they throw our pitch, hit it,” Ottinger said.
Wasilla senior starter Jacob Gilbert allowed only three hits and an earned run over five innings. He fanned six and didn’t walk a batter.
“He was amazing, able to pull that out in this important game,” Hansen said. “Couldn’t ask more from the kid.”
Knights stay alive
Colony advanced to the ASAA fourth-place game with an 8-4 win over West Valley Friday at Mulcahy Stadium.
Ben Alley earned the win on the mound for the Knights, and collected a pair of hits and an RBI at the plate. Alley also scored twice. Kaden Ketchum finished with two hits and two RBI. Ketchum also earned the save, pitching the final 2 1/3 innings of the win.
Evan Walker added two runs and a pair of RBI.
Colony will play Juneau-Douglas in the fourth-place game Saturday morning at 10 a.m. Juneau beat North Pole 11-1 in the other consolation semifinal.
Contact Frontiersman managing editor Jeremiah Bartz at email@example.com.