Two teams from Juneau’s Midnight Suns youth baseball club recently competed in the Skyhawks Memorial Day Bash Tournament in Lacey, Wash.
The Suns’ 14-and-under team caught fire and captured the championship, posting a 4-1 record while the 11-and-under team compiled a 2-3 record.
“It was a great weekend of baseball for our program,” said Andy Macaulay, manager of the under-14 squad. “Both of our teams came out aggressive and ready to play right from the start. They caught the attention of a lot of other teams that kids from Alaska can play solid baseball.”
The Suns 14-and-under team suffered their only loss of the tournament in their first game, falling 2-1 in a tough pitching battle against Sports Unlimited.
R.J. Markovich and Jared Markovich split the pitching duties, allowing just three hits and striking out six batters. Matt Cunningham and Jared Markovich each went 2-for-3 while R.J. Markovich scored the Suns’ only run.
In the second game, the Suns’ bats got hot and torched the Sting Rays 11-2. Nathan Klein earned the win and Jack Withington picked up the save, giving up only four hits and striking out five batters. Klein went 3-for-3 with a double and two RBIs while Withington went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and scored four runs. Collin Ludeman went 2-for-3 while Brady Mallinger went 1-for-2 in the win.
On Sunday the Suns started the day by defeating the Lacey Knights 8-6. Collin Ludeman and Jacob Thibodeau pitched well for the Suns, combining for seven strikeouts as Thibodeau picked up the win. On offense Klein led the Suns going 2-for-4 with four RBIs, including a grand slam in the bottom of the second inning. Tim Christensen went 1-for-3 and scored one run.
In a rematch Sunday afternoon against the Knights, the Suns took a commanding 8-0 lead in the bottom of the second. Withington hit two triples and R.J. Markovich hit a double, while Jake Macaulay and Jared Markovich each went 1-for-2 and scored one run a piece. R.J. Markovich earned the win with Jared Markovich collecting the save. With an 8-2 lead heading into the final inning, the Knights mounted a furious comeback. After scoring five runs that put the score at 8-7 and the tying runner on second base, Jared Markovich was able to strike out the final batter to end the game and put the Suns into the championship game.
The Suns were seeking to avenge their only loss by facing Sports Unlimited in the title game. Nathan Klein took command on the mound and with his bat that earned the Suns a 7-3 victory and the tournament championship. Klein pitched the entire game, giving up only three hits and striking out 14. Klein also went 4-for-4 with two RBIs while Cunningham went 3-for-4 with one RBI and scoring twice. Withington and R.J. Markovich each had a triple with Withington knocking in three RBIs.
“Our pitching was outstanding,” said Andy Macaulay. “Nathan had good command of his fastball and mixed his off speed pitches very well. Offensively our players were very comfortable at the plate and hit the ball hard throughout the tournament. This is the first time this year our team has played together and to win the tournament against teams that have already played 30-plus games says a lot about the talent of this team.”
In the 11-and-under tournament, the Suns won two of three games in Saturday’s pool play round.
“For our kids to play three games in one day was not something they were used to,” Spencer Storie, manager of the 12-and-under team said. “It turned out they needed to win all three games if they were to advance to the semifinals and they almost pulled it off.”
The Suns opened play with an 8-2 victory over Sports Unlimited. Donavin McCurley and Kasey Watts each hit triples while Guy Bean went 2-for-3 and scored two runs. Michael Cesar and Bryce Swofford combined to pitch a three hitter, striking out seven as Swofford earned the win.
In the second game, the Suns had a commanding 11-4 lead heading into the last inning, only to lose to the Knuckleballers 12-11.
“Our offense did very well but our pitching struggled to throw strikes in the last two innings and the other team was able to take advantage,” Storie said.
The Suns bounced back from the loss in their third game of the day to defeat Montesano 11-5. Owen Swanton, Cesar and Swofford pitched while Watts, Bean and Swofford each had two hits. J.J. Mosher also went 1-for-1 with an RBI.
On Sunday the Suns lost a close battle against the Triple Play Wasp, falling 7-4. Zeb Storie went 1-for-1 and scored twice while Watts hit a two-run home run in the game.
In a rematch on Monday, the Suns 12-and-under team came close but couldn’t beat the Wasp, losing 5-4. McCurley went 2-for-3 while Luke Mallinger and Quin Gist each went 1-for-2. Storie, Gist and Swanton combined to pitch giving up six hits with seven strikeouts.