Ames, Goldpanners roll Honkers for sixth straight win

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By Aaron Walling, For the News-Miner

FAIRBANKS — The Alaska Goldpanners came through with timely hitting in the fifth inning, and that was all the team needed to upend the Northwest Honkers 6-2 and extend its win streak to six games Saturday at Growden Memorial Park.

The Goldpanners (6-2 overall) set the tone for the game when first baseman Nick Ames hit a two-run home run in the first inning. Ames, of the University of Las Vegas, launched the ball over the centerfield fence for his first home run of the season. He said he was glad to see the ball fly out of the park to put his team on the board first.

“It felt good. I mean, I’ve hit a couple this week actually that just missed, and it felt good to finally connect and get it over,” Ames said.

The fifth inning was the turning point for the game, as Ames and center fielder Mitch Berryhill, of Salt Lake Community College, each produced a run to help extend the Goldpanners’ lead to 4-2. With a lead in hand, the team didn’t look back as the Honkers (0-5 overall) struggled against Alaska’s strong pitching.

Goldpanners manager Dave Nakama saw his team’s defense come together through strong pitching and the ball flying in from the shortstop. Despite committing two errors, the defense was tight when it needed to be against the Honkers. Shortstop Jordan Ross was the keystone as the Goldpanners used quick innings to close out Northwest. With winning pitcher Brandon Langan, of the University of New Mexico, keeping most of his pitches down low, he forced a lot of ground balls towards Ross’ way.

“I thought it was good, we pitched good and we got some key hits,” Nakama said. “We didn’t get a lot of hits, but we got some clutch hits at the right time and I think our kids are playing pretty good.”

Nakama spoke about how the team didn’t get a lot of hits, but don’t tell that to Ames. Ames this season is hitting .440. On Saturday, Ames displayed his power and led the offense, while Ross took care of business in the field.

The Goldpanners now prepare for a doubleheader against the Honkers today after what would have been the series opener was rained out Monday. These last two games close out the seven-game series between the clubs, and the Goldpanners are getting set for the busy day.

“It’s going to be fun. We’re going to finish up the series, and we’ll get after it again,” Ames said.

The Goldpanners host the Honkers at 3 p.m. today. The second game of the doubleheader will begin shortly after the conclusion of the first contest.

After today’s games, the Goldpanners will welcome the San Diego Waves to town for a six-game series.

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