Leaving the 2017 American Legion Northwest Regional Tournament without any wins didn’t sit well with Juneau Post 25.
Winning the state championship over Dimond Post 21 last week afforded them another shot at the tournament, but after a heartbreaking 8-7 walk-off loss to the Mountain View Toros (Meridian, Idaho) on Wednesday, Juneau is in danger of repeating history.
Philip Wall hit a two-run double and Juneau rallied to take a 7-4 lead in the fourth inning. However, the Toros rallied for four runs in the seventh to take back the lead and secure the win. Riley Harrison, Alex Nielebeck and Charlie Tentinger each had run-scoring hits in that inning. Tentinger’s walk-off single came with two outs and moments after Nielebeck stole second base.
“They just hit the ball at the end and put the ball in play,” Juneau coach Joe Tompkins said of the Toros. “Our guys played their hearts out, there’s nothing more you can ask for.”
Wall led Juneau with three hits while Zeb Storie, Gabe Storie and Bobby Cox each had two. Wall got the start on the mound and went 6 innings, struck out three and allowed nine hits.
Eight different Toros recorded at least one hit in the game which saw the two sides trade the lead on three separate occasions: in the fourth, fifth and seventh innings.
Juneau’s loss sets up an elimination game against either Wyoming or Missoula, Montana, on Thursday afternoon. Hawaii and Billings, Montana, squared off at 4 p.m. and Wyoming played Missoula at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Washington defeated Oregon 4-3 in the first game of the day.
All eight teams except the Mavericks, the tournament hosts, won their respective Legion AA baseball state championships to qualify for the regional.
It’s just the third loss this season for Juneau Post 25, who captured its second consecutive state championship last week and won 23 games in the regular season.
Tompkins said everyone on the team took the loss hard. After the game, the coach reminded his players how they were able to overcome a first-round loss at the state tournament.
“I told them that, hey, we lost the first one at state and they rebounded from that,” Tompkins said. “They played their hearts out. Like I said, I’m very proud of them. The coaches all said they’re proud of them, their hard work. You just have to come and play all the way through and keep playing.”
There are seven other American Legion AA regional tournaments happening this week. One team from all eight regions (Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Mid-South, Great Lakes, Central Plains, Northwest, Western) will meet Aug. 16-21 for the American Legion World Series in Shelby, North Carolina.
Idaho manager Matt Rasmussen was not immediately available for comment.
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.