The JDHS Crimson Bears defended their region title and are state bound once again.
Senior Josh Magnuson started on the mound against the Sitka Wolves’ Joey Inman in the Region V championship game on Friday in Petersburg and threw to the end in a 13-3 title win that gave the Crimson Bears their third straight Region V crown.
After senior Lance Ibesate told his teammates to leave nothing inside, but to leave everything out on the field, the Crimson Bears went to work.
Magnuson opened with two scoreless innings of work.
“Josh forced them to hit ground balls and swing at bad balls and his curve ball was very good today,” Ibesate said. “We went all out today. I am so happy and relieved. This is really special because this is my last year playing in Southeast Alaska, and my last year playing with my senior teammates as well.”
Magnuson helped his own cause in the second inning with a lead off single. Ryan Kelly used a sacrifice bunt to move him on to second and Tanner Petrie singled him home. Christian Gould and Brenden Winters walked to load the bases but Sitka’s Joey Inman got Kellen Johansen to ground into a 4-6-3 double play.
In the top of the third inning Tod Baseden was hit by a pitch to earn first base. Ibesate drilled a line drive double and Kyle Gould walked to load the bases.
Sitka’s pitcher then faced his mound nemesis Magnuson who drew a walk and earned an RBI scoring Baseden.
The Wolves brought AJ Inman to the mound in relief and he met the same fate at the bat of Kelly’s 2 RBI double that scored Ibesate and Gould. Petrie followed with a sacrifice fly scoring Magnuson and the Crimson Bears led 5-0.
“I saw the ball pretty well today,” Kelly said. “It feels good going out my senior year with a region title. It is just a good accomplishment for the team. We want to use it for a stepping-stone for state next week. There are going to be some tough matchups up there.”
Sitka’s Jake Licari reached base on an error in the bottom of the fourth inning and the Wolves’ Brian Way blasted a two-run shot to center field to make it a 5-2 game.
The Crimson Bears struck again in the top of the fifth as Petrie reached on an error, Christian Gould singled, Winters drew a walk and Johansen hit an RBI single scoring Petrie for a 6-2 advantage.
The top of the sixth was more Crimson Bears’ firepower as Ibesate reached on a hard hit error to the shortstop. Kyle Gould drew another walk and Magnuson secured his lead with a hard single to left field scoring Ibesate.
Sitka brought in Ryan Wood for relief and Kelly drew a walk. Petrie than rapped a 2 RBI single scoring Gould and Magnuson. Christian Gould followed with a sacrifice fly scoring Kelly. Winters singled to right and Gould was caught in a run down for the second out. Johansen powered an RBI double scoring winters and Baseden singled to bring Johansen in.
Sitka got one run back as Licari doubled and Way singled him in but the Wolves looked beaten at 12-3.
With no body warming up in the bullpen and the Crimson Bears stepping to the plate, Magnuson looked like he would be finishing a complete game Region V championship.
The senior had one more chore to do however. Drawing a walk in his final at bat and moving over to third base on a Kyle Gould single, Magnuson and Gould disrupted the Wolves hurler. Magnuson was awarded the free pass over home plate as the Sitka mound closer balked.
Magnuson then finished his day job, and shut the Wolves down in order. Magnuson struck out six Sitka batters in the game and walked two, while allowing just three hits and two earned runs.
The Crimson Bears will be heading for their 10th state tournament since that venue began 13 seasons ago, and they will be seeking their fifth state title.
“We are ecstatic about the title,” JDHS coach Shelden Winters said. “It means a lot to the kids to get the third title in a row and especially against a class act team like Sitka. They played really well, we just had a better hitting night. We are really happy we won.”
The Crimson Bears connected for 14 hits on Friday, one more than the 13 compiled against Thunder Mountain on Thursday, and the numerous blasts totaled against Wrangell in the tourney opener. The Crimson Bears put three home runs over the tournament fences.
“When we want to be, we are a dominating hitting team,” Winters said.
JDHS begins state tourney play on Thursday.