The Thunder Mountain and Juneau-Douglas baseball teams returned home after a road trip to Sitka, during which all five Southeast teams squared off one week before the start of the Region V tournament in Juneau.
Juneau-Douglas rolled to a 14-1 win over Thunder Mountain on Thursday on the strength of a combined four-hitter by pitchers Miles Bedford, James San Miguel and Jeffrey Pusich.
San Miguel was outstanding at the plate as well. The senior reached base in all four of his plate appearances, including a homer and three walks, and the Bears posted eight runs in the fifth inning alone to put this one well out of reach. Juneau-Douglas batted around in the frame, and each batter reached base at least once during the offensive outburst.
It was a difficult day for the Falcons on the other side of the diamond. Sophomore pitcher Jackson Pavitt gave up 14 runs (eight earned) on 101 pitches while striking out three batters and walking three.
But Thunder Mountain also struggled at the plate, scoring only one run on a Dustin Rumfelt RBI double in the second inning that drove in Gus Swanton.
Friday’s game was a much closer contest for the defending state champs as Ketchikan fought back in a 6-4 Juneau-Douglas victory.
The Crimson Bears pushed across four runs in the first inning and managed 10 hits in the game, with the bottom three of the batting order — Damon Ludwig, Brendan Daugherty and Tal Norvel — each going 2-for-3 with an RBI each.
Josh Magnuson pitched five innings of six-hit ball, giving up four unearned runs.
Things didn’t get much better for TMHS after the loss to JDHS, however. The Falcons fell victim to a one-hitter by Sitka pitcher Tiki Oneil in a 13-0 loss on Friday. But Thunder Mountain bounced back on Saturday with an 8-5 win over Petersburg and capped the road trip with a 6-1 loss to Ketchikan.
Starting pitcher Ben Bullock led off Friday’s game against Sitka with a single to the left side of the diamond, but that would be the last hit Oneil allowed in the game as he went on to strike out six and walk three on 71 pitches in five innings.
Sitka second baseman Michael Matz launched two homers in the contest while center fielder V.J. Carlos hit one of his own. Both players reached base in all four of their plate appearances.
Saturday’s matchup with Petersburg turned out to be a nice bounce-back matchup for the Falcons. Thunder Mountain cranked out eight runs on 13 hits and pitcher Dylan Johnson threw a complete game, allowing just one earned run (TMHS committed six errors) and striking out seven Vikings in seven innings to hold on for the 8-5 win.
First baseman Xavier Dunn was 3-for-4 at the plate and scored twice, while second baseman Dustin Rumfelt had two hits, two runs and three RBIs in the game.
“We’ve had a number of tough losses. No excuses, the kids are trying hard,” co-manager Bill McCauley said. “But we’ve actually really improved our defense in the last few games, so we didn’t make so many errors. We certainly had some mistakes, but not so many errors, especially against Petersburg.
“And that was probably our best hitting game.”
Thunder Mountain finished its trip with a 6-1 loss to the Kings as the Falcons scattered six hits over seven innings. Ketchikan only managed seven hits in the ball game but was able to string them together and take advantage of runners in scoring position.
The Kings scored three runs in the first inning to jump out on top quickly after Bullock crossed the plate in the top of the first to give the Falcons a brief 1-0 lead.
Ketchikan then plated one in the fifth inning and two in the sixth to put the game away.
Swanton started and pitched five innings, giving up three earned runs on just five hits while striking out five batters.
“It is tough on our guys. They’re just not quite used to varsity pitching, yet,” McCauley said. “I would say hitting is our weakness, but I was really proud of our pitching today. Both Dylan Johnson and Gus Swanton pitched really well today, as well as Cam Thomas in relief.
“Baseball really relies on pitching,” he quipped. “When we pitch well we seem to have good games, and when we don’t, things go downhill fast.”
The Region V 2011 Baseball Tournament begins at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park, and McCauley said the Falcons are ready to go.
“I think the kids are in really good spirits. We’ve had tough losses and we’ve taken some pretty good beatings, but they don’t get down on themselves,” he said. “I’m really proud of the way they hang in there and keep coming back. We open up with Petersburg on Thursday, and we’re looking forward to it.”