Chinooks hurler delivers a gem in team’s home opener
Good things come to those who wait.
After losing three straight ABL games following a season-opening win, the Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks treated their home fans to a true gem Monday night.
Chinooks starter Jared Reklaitis thrilled fans by taking a no-hitter into the top of the ninth inning in the Alaska Baseball League team’s home opener against the Mat-Su Miners, losing the bid with one out in the ninth on a single by Brayden Merritt.
The hit was the only one allowed by Reklaitis, who gave up an unearned run before finishing off the 7-1 complete game victory. A 6-4 senior at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Reklaitis struck out seven batters and faced the minimum through eight innings of work.
The Wisconsin native may have been undone by his own offense, which scored three insurance runs during a lengthy bottom of the eighth inning.
Through his first two starts this summer, Reklaitis is 1-0 with a 1.92 ERA. He’s given up five hits in 14 innings, striking out 10 while walking three.
The start of the game was briefly delayed by rain, which eventually gave way to a rainbow over the mountains behind the center field fence.
Seth Ballenger and Luke Van Dover had three hits each for the Chinooks, who got two hits and three RBIs from shortstop Gregory Ozuna, who kept Reklaitis’ no-hit bid alive with a spectacular diving stop in the top of the eighth.
The victory improved the Chinooks to 2-3 in the league.
In the season opener June 5 at Mulcahy Stadium, Chugiak-Eagle River got two hits each from Ballenger, Jordan Wharton and J Paul Fullerton, as well as three RBIs from Nick Kreutzer to key the win. Reliever Michael Barker pitched two innings of scoreless relief to earn the win for the Chinooks, who have the unique distinction of playing in three ABL home openers this season.
The Pilots turned the tables the following night at Mulcahy, pounding out 13 hits in a 10-8 victory. Ballenger and Wharton had three hits each for the Chinooks in the loss.
On June 7, the Chinooks traveled up the Glenn Highway to help the Miners open Hermon Brothers Field for the season, with the home side taking a 6-1 decision. Mat-Su pitchers Nolan Monaghan, Kyle King and Nathan Bock combined to allow just three Chugiak-Eagle River hits — two of them by Chinooks right fielder Bailey Collins.
The Pilots again got the better of the Chinooks June 9, dropping the fish to 1-3 with a 7-1 decision at Mulcahy. Kreutzer and Collins had two hits each for the Chinooks, who were stifled by Bradley University southpaw Bradley Cook, who struck out 11 batters in a complete-game gem.
The Chinooks are home June 16-18 before traveling to Palmer for a game June 19 against the Miners followed by a June 20-24 trip to Kenai for four games against the Peninsula Oilers.