A point here and a point there and Juneau’s Gastineau Channel Little League junior All Star baseball team, representing Alaska at the Western Regionals in Vancouver, Washington, would be playing for the championship.
Instead, with an 8-2 loss to Hawaii and a thrilling 8-6 loss to Washington over the weekend, team Alaska (1-3) is out of the championship rounds, leaving the baseball field with the respect of a nation of junior-league teams.
“I think we earned a lot of respect from the other teams down here,” manager Joe Tompkins said. “Our guys have nothing to hang their heads about.
Alaska scored first, last and was involved in three lead changes as they clung to slim playoff hopes against Washington’s Upper Valley Little League.
Grant Ainsworth scored Alaska’s first run after a walk, a single by Jared Markovich a walk to Jake Tanner, and a fielders choice hit by Tim Christensen.
After Washington took the lead in the bottom of the first Alaska came back with a strong top of the second to reclaim the scoreboard.
With two out, Kaleb Tompkins drew a walk and Matt Cunningham singled, allowing Ainsworth to put a triple into left field for 2 runs batted in.
Once again Washington came back in the bottom of the inning to reclaim the lead 4-3. Washington added another run in the bottom of the fourth.
Alaska picked up a run in the fifth as Ainsworth singled, advanced to second on a balk and reached third on an error and scored on the bungled play.
Washington again scored in the bottom of the inning, getting three points for an 8-4 advantage.
Alaska picked up a run in the sixth as Finn Collins singled. Pinch runner Devon Williams moved to second on a walk to Alex Muir and to third on a Cunningham single and scored on the fielding play.
Alaska’s final run came in the top of the seventh. Markovich drew a walk and moved to third on a Tanner double, and scored on a hard ground ball by Christensen.
Ainsworth went 2-3 at the plate with 2 RBI, 2 RS, a triple and 1 WK; Cunningham was 2-4 (1 RBI, 1 RS); Christensen 0-4 (2 RBI); Markovich 1-3 (1 RS, 1 WK, 1 SO); Tanner 1-3 (1 DB, 1 WK, 1 SO), Brendan Pietz 0-4 (1 SO); Collins 1-3 (1 SO); Muir 0-1 (2 WK); Tompkins 0-0 (1 RS, 1 WK); Williams 0-1 (1 RS, 1 SO); Bullock 0-2 (1 SO).
Christensen threw 84 pitches (54 strikes) and struck out one batter, Tanner threw 11 pitches with four strikes and Cunningham threw 30 (17 strikes) and struck out three.
The Alaska junior All Stars are: Grant Ainsworth, Guy Bean, Mo Bullock, Tim Christensen, Finn Collins, Matt Cunningham, Jared Markovich, Alex Muir, Brendan Pietz, Jake Tanner, Kaleb Tompkins, Devon Williams, manager Joe Tompkins and coaches Matt Greely and Frank Tompkins