Who is on first, What is on second, and I Don’t Know is on third... but the Juneau-Douglas High School and Thunder Mountain coaches aren’t telling their starting rotations for tonight’s first hard ball conference meeting of the season between the Crimson Bears and Falcons.
Coaches may wait until just before the first warm up pitch to get a roster written down and handed to the umpires and scorekeepers, as it is a cardinal rule in baseball not to tip your starting rotation to early. Gamesmanship and good times await fans that get to the ballpark early for prime seating.
If the JD and TM top guns show up on the rubber the teams could field Dopey, Grumpy, Doc, Happy, Bashful, Sneezy and Sleepy (plus a one-armed catcher 60-feet-6-inches away), as both squads have the potential to be dominate at the “1.”
The Crimson Bears’ quick drawing Lance Ibesate dueling Falcons’ side-arm gunslinger Dylan Johnson would be fun to watch. Or maybe Falcons’ junior lefty Martin Conchas-Michel against JD senior Josh Magnuson, but those two hurlers throw strikes from the outfield and second base, respectively, just as deadly.
Coaches aren’t talking, but the players on the field have already spoken enough with early game action.
Just in their third year, TMHS has shown great strides and almost knocked off perennial powerhouse Sitka last weekend, falling 5-4 with runners stranded on base.
The afore-mentioned Johnson and a pitching staff under tutelage of former JDHS great Matt Greely, are fun to watch on the mound. Greely and head coach Bill McCauley can also draw on Chris Luck in relief.
The Falcons have a lot of returning varsity experience and are poised to be competitive. Senior Cam Thomas, juniors Ben Bullock, Johnson and Jackson Pavitt want the win that has escaped them in their careers.
The Falcons have also represented themselves well in the communities of Petersburg and Sitka, drawing raves from opposing fans. The Falcons goals are to play hard and have fun and entertain the Juneau baseball fans.
TMHS is looking to start the season with an upset over defending SE champions Juneau-Douglas.
The Crimson Bears lost nine seniors to graduation and are returning all-conference selections Lance Ibesate and Ryan Kelly, both seniors and athletes who understand the work involved to reach the state venue.
Questions as to the team’s ability to reload after last season bounced from dugout to dugout around southeast during the summer months, and answers so far have been ‘very nicely, thank you.’
JDHS, the current two-time southeast champ, is 3-0 in the young season after sweeping Chugiak 11-2, 6-4 and 6-1. The pitching of juniors Tanner Petrie, Jeff Pusich and Kyle Gould are allowing the Crimson Bears to remove question marks.
Ibesate had a strong pitching performance in the 11-2 game, striking out 10 in 5 innings and getting five hits in three games himself. Petrie and Pusich started the next two games.
Freshman Nathan Klein is showing skills at catcher and pitcher, Tod Baseden swings a bat better than his Crimson Bears hockey stick (and he wielded that nicely); coaches son Brenden Winters is looking a bit more like 23-year MLB Baltimore Orioles great Brooks Robinson every; and Magnuson is coming off of a knee injury and could see time on the mound in tomorrow’s game... that alone is worth it for fans to find parking space at Adair Kennedy Field.
Each conference team (JDHS, Ketchikan, Sitka and TMHS) plays 12 conference games, during the next three weeks, four against each opponent. Teams will travel to Ketchikan, then to Sitka and end the conference schedule with a home stand in Juneau May 17-19. That home stand will feature all region varsity and JV teams in a jamboree.
According to the Ketchikan Daily News, the Kayhi Kings are currently 1-2 after a three game series with defending state champion South Anchorage. South won 12-0 and 7-3 and Kayhi won 9-8. Brian Auger had two homers for Kayhi during the series.
According to the Sitka Sentinel, the Wolves are 6-0 including wins over Anchorage’s Service last weekend by scores of 5-3 and 10-3. The Wolves have just four seniors on their roster.
The final conference standing determines the seeding for the SE regional championship in Petersburg on May 23-26.
JDHS has won four state championships and Sitka three. Yet neither of these schools can look ahead to that venue given the talent of the conference.
Even small schools Petersburg, Craig and Wrangell have the ability to put together one game at tournament that can spoil the big boy’s season. The Vikings and Panthers have already given fits to their big school brethren this season. Limited athletes and travel, however, means limited playing time and these smaller schools have to decide by this weekend whether or not they will be in the Region V tournament.
Tonight’s game begins at 7 p.m. at Adair Kennedy Field with junior varsity action beginning at 4 p.m.
The JDHS varsity: Seniors - Lance Ibesate, Ryan Kelly, Josh Magnuson, Brenden Winters. Juniors - Tod Baseden, Christian Gould, Kyle Gould, Jackson Lehnhart, Tanner Petrie, Jeffrey Pusich, Kurt Vandor. Sophomores - Kellen Johansen. Freshmen - Nathan Klein. JD JV: Grant Ainsworth, Fred Collier, Michael Dale, Jimmy Diamond, Joe Greenough, Jasper MacNaughton, Brady Mallinger, Julian Minne, Sylvester Olivares, Chris Rodriguez, Curtis Stickler, Taylor Swofford, Jacob Thibodeau, Jack Withington.
The TMHS varsity: Seniors - Chris Luck, Chatham Miller, Erik Reyna, Cam Thomas. Juniors - Ben Bullock, Martin Conchas-Michel, Dylan Johnson, Devon Lewis, Brenyn Marshall, Patrick Millay, Jackson Pavitt. Sophomores - Dennis Barril, Brandon Chappell, Brian Mielke, Patrick Minsch, Gus Swanton. Freshmen - Stefan Beedle, Tim Christensen, Matt Cunningham, Cody Eyre, Tristan Forrest, Jake Macaulay, Jared Markovich, RJ Markovich, Reece Milks, Hunter Miller, Kevin Ohmer, Preston Perfors.