Eagle River remains atop American Legion baseball following back-to-back state championships

Published: Jul. 29, 2022 at 11:42 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Patience and persistence paid off for the Eagle River Wolves in the Alaska American Legion State Championship game against Service Post 28, just as it had all summer.

Tied 3-3 with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, Wolves third baseman Dalton Smith drew a walk-off walk to bring home senior Noah Lower and the state title.

”It’s a feeling I have never had before,” Lower said after crossing home plate in his final game as a member of the Eagle River baseball team. “I think we played 58 games this year and it was 58 games in the making. Every single feeling I have had this summer just boiled into one feeling and I just couldn’t contain it.”

After plating three runs right out of the gates in the first inning, sparked by a Lower RBI single, Eagle River was grounded by four errors and solid pitching from Service, who were able to claw their way back to tie it, but the Wolves stayed as a pack.

”Fortitude. Just sticking around, we never gave it away,” Eagle River head coach Bill Lierman said about what it took to win. “I think that is the thing, the team can be down, we had moments that we could have just said, ‘Hey its not our time,’ and give it to Service, but I think our guys just stayed with it and we fought through some of their bases-loaded jams and things to that nature.

“Yeah we got up top with three runs and that helped tremendously, but the guys just stayed with it at all times.”

Leading the charge at the plate throughout Eagle River’s championship run was second baseman Connor Johnson, who batted .467 during the tournament to go with 12 RBI’s, including a two-run double off the wall in the title game.

“I don’t even know,” Johnson, the tournament’s MVP, said of what is going well for him at the plate. “I am just seeing the ball well, man. I am just sitting there, hitting it, doing my thing. I get excited, I am confident, it’s alright.”

As seniors like Lower and Johnson move on, they said they hope to leave their championship fingerprints on the program.

“I get to see a bunch of newcomers come on and bring the program and continue on the program, and hopefully we are here again next year,” Lower added.

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