Ethan Kise (34) slides into second with a stolen base on Saturday. North Union’s Mason Bright awaits the throw. The Wildcats defeated FHS, 16-10. (Journal-Tribune photo by Sam Dillon)
Fairbanks High School baseball coach Josh Rine echoed what a lot of colleagues might have said if they were in his situation.
“When you score 10 runs, that’s usually enough to win a game,” he said.
That’s not always a given, especially if your team commits nine errors like FHS did during Saturday’s 16-10 loss to North Union.
The Panthers’ (who slipped to 9-10) glove issues gave the Wildcats (6-11) additional opportunities at the plate.
“I’ve never seen a game in which we had trouble with routine plays and also losing the ball in the sun,” said Rine.
“Fairbanks gave us extra outs and we were able to take advantage of them,” said NU coach Klarke Ransome.
Things went south of the border for the Panthers (who will host Triad today) in the top of the initial inning.
North Union struck for five runs against Fairbanks starting pitcher Alex Blumenschein.
NU’s Aaron Krebehenne ripped a first-pitch single and Nolan Draper followed with a base hit.
Blumenschein hit Trevyn Feasel with a pitch to load the bases.
Greyson Beeney doubled in a pair of runs and a free pass to Landon Converse again juiced the sacks.
North Union took a 3-0 lead on an FHS error.
Mason Bright singled in a run that pushed the Wildcats out to a 4-0 margin.
The bases remained loaded with one down.
At that point, Rine lifted Blumenschein in favor of CJ Swartz. Blumenschein lasted only 1/3 of an inning.
Swartz walked Chris Isler as NU climbed to a 5-0 spread.
The relief pitcher, though, got out of further trouble with a double play.
The Panthers cut into their deficit with a run in the home half of the first.
A single by Evan Blumenschein was sandwiched between walks by Feasel to Swartz and Ryker Beaty.
Feasel notched the second out of the inning on a strikeout.
FHS, however, tallied a run on an NU fielding miscue.
That again kept the bases loaded, but a groundball out ended the inning.
The Wildcats (who will host Indian Lake today) climbed to an 8-1 margin in the top of the second.
A pair of Panther errors and a sacrifice fly from Bright tacked on three runs for the Wildcats.
An infield single by Isler later loaded the bases.
Swartz, however, escaped further damage with a grounder.
Fairbanks kept chipping away at its deficit with a pair of runs in the second and one in the third.
Beaty’s double drove in two runs and reduced the gap to 8-3.
Walks to Noah Rausch and Ethan Kise were followed by an NU fielding miscue in the third.
The bases were loaded when a walk to Grant Rausch pulled the Panthers to within 8-4.
Feasel got out of the bases-loaded jam with a ground ball out.
Both teams’ bats were relatively quiet during the fourth inning.
North Union, though, erupted for three runs in the visitors’ portion of the fifth.
Isler led off with a walk and swiped second.
Krebehenne was plunked by a pitch.
Another FHS fielding misadventure loaded the bases.
A pair of fielder’s choice plays tallied two more runs for the Wildcats.
Converse then pushed North Union out to an 11-4 margin with a run-producing single.
NU added five runs in the top of the sixth against Fairbanks relief pitcher Taylor Andrews.
Walks to Bright and Richie Bolander, plus a bunt single by Isler juiced the sacks.
A pair of errors and a walk brought in three runs.
Beeney was credited with an RBI after he was out on a fielder’s choice.
The Wildcats then climbed to a 16-4 lead on Converse’s sacrifice fly.
North Union was just three outs away from invoking the run rule.
The Panthers, however, had other ideas when they came to bat in the bottom of the sixth.
Swartz and Grant Rausch led off with singles against NU reliever Bolander.
Evan Blumenschein followed suit to load the bases.
Beaty drove in a run with a single.
Nathan Combs was hit by a pitch, which brought in a run that narrowed the Panthers’ deficit to 16-6.
The sacks remained juiced as Nathan Rausch strode to the plate.
He worked Bolander for a 2-0 count.
Rausch whipped his bat around on the next pitch and sent the ball screaming into the air.
The sphere got into the jet stream for a grand slam homer.
All of the sudden, the Panthers had pulled to within 16-10 with no outs.
Bolander induced a pair of grounders and notched a strikeout to end the inning.
Andrews put North Union down without too much of a struggle in the top of the seventh.
There were a few tense minutes for NU in the home half of the seventh.
Swartz singled before North Union notched a pair of outs.
A base hit by Beaty perched runners on the corners.
Bolander hit Combs with a pitch to load the bases.
A flyball out, however, ended the game.
Despite the loss, the Panthers outhit NU, 13-10.
“We did an OK job at the plate,” said Rine. “Feasel is a tough pitcher, however, and he just kept battling.”
Feasel threw 112 pitches during his five innings of work.
That wasn’t necessarily in Ransome’s plan.
“Trevyn was up and down a little bit,” said the NU coach. “He threw 99 pitches through four innings, but said he felt good.
“Fairbanks is a very good hitting team,” said Ransome. “However, Trevyn wanted the ball for the fifth inning and we trusted him.”
Feasel can’t pitch again until Wednesday.
Ransome, though, said the senior probably won’t throw again until Thursday.
NU 530 035 0-16 10 2
FHS 121 006 0-10 13 9
Ryker Beaty of Fairbanks rips a base hit against North Union on Saturday. Also pictured is NU catcher Landon Converse. North Union won, 16-10. (Journal-Tribune photo by Sam Dillon)