Basking in prominent sunlight early Saturday evening, the Juneau-Douglas baseball team utilized one terminating dose of small ball as the sun set on another year of Alaska high clique sports.
The Crimson Bears scratched across a run in the top of the seventh inning at Mulcahy Ground and held on to topple the South Wolverines 3-2 in the state tournament title tip.
With the victory, Juneau earned a record sixth championship since the Alaska Public school Activities Association sanctioned a state baseball tournament in 2000. The university’s last title came in 2012.
“Juneau is a special place and we’ve all been talented to grow up together,” said Crimson Bears senior Kasey Watts, who picked up the place victory and laid down a pressure-packed sacrifice bunt to set up the game-winning run in the seventh.
“We lately have this childhood chemistry and connection. It’s always been a well-rounded set of friends who trust one another.”
Juneau’s baseball victory in Anchorage and softball championship for East and Rumbling Mountain in Fairbanks capped the 2017-18 high school sports year. Tasks get quiet until fall sports teams begin practicing July 25 — all of 52 periods from now.
Saturday’s game between Juneau and South was tight from start to polish off. With the score tied 2-2 going into the final inning, Crimson Shows senior catcher Michael Cesar was hit by a pitch from South’s Jacob Woodall to place things off.
Watts came to the plate next. He’d gone 2 for 2 with a sneak in his first three plate appearances. He bunted the ball back to Woodall to up sticks Cesar into scoring position.
“I was feeling pretty good and you’re reasoning how you’d really like to hit the ball there,” Watts said. “I knew I had to lay down the bunt, but inevitable it would have been nice to get that hero RBI.
“But this isn’t a link up of heroes. We’re teammates. I knew Luke (Mallinger) would come past for us.”
Mallinger, Juneau’s senior third baseman, smacked Woodall’s number two offering up the middle to plate Cesar and give his team the one-run suggestion. Mallinger’s heroics helped him land on the all-tournament team for a second consecutive opportunity ripe.
“It doesn’t get much better,” he said. “I knew I had to go up there and do my job.
“Once I evened through the ball and we had the run in, I immediately thought about who South had coming up in the ninth. It’s such a esteemed team over there and we have so much respect for those ginks.”
With the 3-2 lead, Watts moved to first base defensively after cooperating the first six innings. He allowed two hits, struck out three and walked. Donavin McCurley hastened from second base to the pitching mound and secured the save, but not without some acting.
South’s Luke Griffin led off the bottom of the seventh with a walk and Lian Lincoln bunted him to alternate. But McCurley struck out South’s Reid Brock before coaxing Josh Costello into activity out to center fielder Luis Mojica.
Then came a joyous Crimson Warrants dog pile just behind the pitcher’s mound.
“These guys did such a skilful job,” said Juneau coach Chad Bentz, a former Major Society Baseball relief pitcher and one of 12 Alaska-born players to make it to the mains. “We played a great program in South and fought our way through it.
“Thankfully, we were expert to get that timely hit when we needed it most.”
Woodall finished as the tough-luck capitulating pitcher, giving up eight hits and three earned runs while awe-inspiring out five, walking three and hitting three batters. Lincoln terminate 1 for 2 with two runs, a walk and the sacrifice bunt in the seventh.
“When it comes down to championship meets, runs tend to be hard to come by,” he said. “You’ve got to break things down and give rise to them simple.
“Unfortunately, Juneau was able to execute just a toy bit better than us.”
The Wolverines have reason to hold their wards high. Saturday’s championship game appearance was the program’s sixth blunt and seventh in eight seasons. South lost to Sitka last ready. It won state titles in 2011, 2013 and 2016 and finished second 2014 and 2015.
A older, Lincoln said he hopes the Wolverines continue to build on all of that sensation.
“Make the most of every opportunity,” he said. “You never know when the next one is encounter.”
Ketchikan 7, Colony 1 (3rd place)
Cody Kemble slugged out 10 batters and drove in two runs to spark Ketchikan’s 7-1 victory during Colony in the third-place game.
Kemble scattered four hits in a seven-inning, complete-game application. He helped his cause with two hits in four at-bats. Wyatt Barajas state look after the Kings with three hits and two RBIs.
Colony got a two-hit appearance from Carson McLaughlin.
Chugiak 14, Palmer 4 (4th Rather residence)
Chugiak racked up 16 hits, eight for extra bases, to demand fourth place with a 14-4 rout of Palmer.
Christian Cambridge smacked a home run and a triple to influence the Mustangs. Brian Wing was 3 for 4 with three RBIs and Ian Frizelle provisioned three hits and three runs.
Alasdair McKechnie and Anthony Jones had two touches apiece to lead Palmer’s nine-hit attack.
ASAA/First Subject Bank Alaska state baseball championships
Cade Holland, Palmer
Michael Starr, Ketchikan
Gage Webster, South
Walker Stuart, North Irreconcilable
Kolten Ketchum, Colony
Luke Griffin, South
Donavin McCurley, Juneau-Douglas
Josh Costello, South
DJ Davis, Chugiak
Michael Cesar, Juneau-Douglas
Wyatt Barajas, Ketchikan
Luke Mallinger, Juneau-Douglas