FAIRBANKS — Starting pitcher Nathan Bannister overcame a tough start and first baseman Nolan Meadows drove in two runs with two hits and scored twice, as the Alaska Goldpanners rallied to an 8-4 victory over the Anchorage Bucs in Tuesday night’s opener of a four-game Alaska Baseball League series at Growden Memorial Park.
The Goldpanners improved to 2-2 in league play while handing the Bucs their first loss in ABL action following a 6-0 start.
Bannister got his first win of the season in his first start despite allowing 10 hits and four runs, including a 3-0 lead for the Bucs in the top of the second inning. The right-handed freshman from the University of Arizona struck out three and walked one in his eight-inning stint.
Matt Milke and Kendall Sprague pitched relief. Sprague retired the side in order in the top of the ninth, ending the game with a strikeout of Tyler Coolbaugh.
Starter Austin Stone, one of four Bucs pitchers, took the loss during a 5 1/3-inning stint. He allowed four runs and seven hits while walking one and striking out three.
The ABL leaders got two hits each from four players — Lawton Langford, Michael Strentz, Chase Compton and Ryan Leonards. Strentz, a catcher, also scored twice.
The Goldpanners rally started with two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Chance Abrath led off with a single and scored on a double by Meadows, who scored two outs later on Alex Rubanowitz’s grounder.
Payden Cawley-Lamb and Meadows put the Goldpanners ahead 4-3 in the sixth. Cawley-Lamb led off with single, stole two bases and scored on an error by Stone. Meadows was walked by Stone, advanced on the error and came home on Anchorage reliever Justin Michaelec’s wild pitch to Casey Munoz.
The hosts stretched their lead to 7-4 in the bottom of the seventh. Leadoff batter Nick Catalano was hit by a pitch from Bucs reliever Robert Tasin and David Edwards reached base on a walk. The two Goldpanners later scored on a error by Bucs first baseman Collin Ferguson.
Payden Cawley-Lamb, who had reached on a fielder’s choice, scored on Meadows’ second hit Tuesday.
Rubanowitz added insurance in the eighth, reaching on an error by third baseman Leonards and scoring after Catalano got on base from another error by Leonards, who drove in two runs.
The Bucs jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first with Compton’s RBI double and Leonards’ run-scoring single.
Andy Crowley put Anchorage ahead 3-0 in the top of the second, reaching on an error by Meadows and scoring on the first of Langford’s two hits.
Strentz scored in top of the eighth on Leonards’ single after Strentz led off with a single.
The Bucs and Goldpanners meet in a doubleheader today starting at 5 p.m., and wrap up their series at 7 Thursday night. The Goldpanners play host to the Peninsula Oilers of Kenai on Friday through Sunday.
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