Famous baseball manager, and player, Casey Stengel (1891-1975) once summed up what could be the rule for baseball and softball play in Juneau.
“There are three things you can do in a baseball game,” Stengel said. “You can win, or you can lose, or it can rain.”
Juneau’s Gastineau Channel Little League Majors All Star softball team did a little of all three as they opened their best-of-five Alaska State Majors Softball Tournament series against Anchorage’s City View Little League with a 14-12 loss on Friday and a 14-4 loss on Saturday. Today’s 3 p.m. game is now do or die for the GCLL.
“It is particularily frustrating because we have commanded the games early,” Juneau manager Scott Balovich said. “We have had some big intensity let downs mid game and that makes it tough. You have to give City View credit, they have taken advantage of the mistakes we have made and created big innings late offensively when we made those let downs.”
On Friday GCLL scored three runs in the first inning as opening batter Haleigh DiCarlo walked, Allison Ireland-Haight was hit by a pitch and Megan Dallas belted a two-run double. Dallas would score later on Sami Good’s single. City View loaded the bases in their half but found the third out at a play at home plate.
GCLL added three more runs in the second inning as starting pitcher Leah Spargo helped her own cause by drawing a walk, stealing second and third and scoring on Haight’s single. Dallas reached on a dropped third strike and scored with Haight on Peyton Harp’s triple.
GCLL added two more runs in the third as Morgan Balovich reached on an error and Spargo singled. Maxie Saceda-Hurt followed with a two-run single.
But City View came alive in their half of the third, scoring two runs on an Olivia Webster walk and double steal and a single by Daisy Page with another steal. While Juneau failed to score in the fourth, City’s Mackenzie Barnhart, Rebecca Syrup and Webster drew walks and scored on Page’s base clearing single.
City went on a tear in the fifth inning as Julia Tosi singled and stole second, Tala Lauvele singled and Jaya Samuel singled to load the bases. Syrup singled in a run, Kellie Stewart walked in an RBI and Page again cleared the bases with a double. Another single by Rapoza moved Page over and she scored on Tosi’s double. Tosi would score on a Lauvele single.
Trailing 14-10 at the top of the sixth inning GCLL’s Dallas drew a walk and advanced to third on Alondra Echiverri’s single. Harp singled in Dallas and Good sacrificed in Echiverri. Needing just two runs Balovich blasted a line drive that shot straight to City View’s center fielder for the second out and Spargo popped up to the pitcher giving Anchorage the first game 14-12.
“We got some key hits, some errors from them and had aggressive base running,” City View coach Jeff Barnhart said. “It was pretty simple really and our girls were pretty nervous.”
A combination, on both sides, of rain hampered fielding and streak hitting finished in favor of the Anchorage team.
“Once one of our girls came in from a slide and said that was fun, then our girls wanted to get dirty,” Barnhart commented of the field conditions. “That was a game for the ages.”
Saturday weather turned bright and sunny and Juneau again took to the scoreboard first. Good walked and stole second, Balovich was hit by a pitch and Echiverri drew a walk to load the bases. Starting pitcher Saceda-Hurt helped her own cause with an RBI single, followed by DiCarlo’s RBI single and Rachel Macaulay’s RBI walk.
City View grabbed a run back as Page was hit by a pitch and scored on a Cynthia Wright single. City View grabbed another point in the fourth as Alyssa Sands walked and stole second, third and then across home on a passed ball.
City View had another strong fifth inning as Tosi, Lauvele, Sands, Samuel and Syrup stroked RBIs. Syrup also scored on a defensive indifference play as she caught Juneau napping and stole across an unoccupied home plate.
Now Trailing 9-3 Juneau manage one run in the bottom of the fifth as Good singled in Dallas.
City View put another five runs across in their final at bat with RBIs by Rapoza, Tosi and Syrup. Juneau tried one last rally as Echiverri singled and stole second and third and scored on a passed ball.
“We need to keep our intensity through all six innings,” Balovich said. “We need to keep our mistakes to a minimum and I think we will be fine. City View is a good team. You can’t have focus and intensity let downs against a good team and win a state title.”
Juneau faces elimination today in a 3 p.m. game three against City View at Melvin Park.
Juneau must now win three straight games to advance to the region tournament in San Bernadino, Calif.
“Obviously it is tough,” Balovich said. “But it can be done. You have to win one game. You have to keep that intensity and focus going, and it starts with Sunday. Every game is a must win and you have to believe you can do it.”