BY KLAS STOLPE
Juneau-Douglas High School scored two runs in the top of the seventh inning and the Thunder Mountain boys stranded one runner in their last at bat as the Crimson Bears survived a cross-town scare for a 2-1 win over the Falcons Tuesday night at Adair Kennedy Field.
Trailing 1-0 the Crimson Bears looked to be headed to defeat as the leadoff hitter in their last at bat grounded out to the Falcons’ hurler, Dylan Johnson.
JDHS’ Tanner Petrie was then hit by a pitch for a free pass to first and Jeffrey Pusich came in to pinch hit and put a single through the infield. Sophomore Michael Dale would come in to pinch run for Pusich, setting up the play of the game.
The Falcons’ Johnson struck out senior Tod Baseden for his tenth K of the night.
The Crimson Bears leadoff hitter Jackson Lehnhart was then hit by a pitch to load the bases. Classmate Tal Norvell hit a ball off the plate that was called back after a run scored, seemingly taking the rally away from the Crimson Bears. Norvell made contact again and beat out a single that was dropped at first base allowing Petrie to score from third. Dale continued on a dead run around third for the go-a-head run.
“It was huge,” JDHS coach Will Race said. “That was very instinctual and a big play. Michael Dale’s running from second into home was the play of the game.”
JDHS then relied on senior fireballer Kurt Vandor to finish his complete game.
Vandor got the Falcons’ Jackson Pavitt to fly out to right field and sophomore Matthew Cunningham to hit back to the mound for two outs.
Johnson helped his cause with a single but freshman Jake Tanner grounded out to Norvell at short to end the game.
The night belonged to the pitchers, as Johnson struck out the top of the Crimson Bears order in the first inning and Vandor allowed a single but struck out three Falcons in their first at bat.
The Falcons scored their lone run in the bottom of the fifth. Pavitt drew a walk and Cunningham hit an RBI double into right field.
The Crimson Bears threatened with a leadoff walk by Norvell in the sixth but a hard liner by Kyle Gould was handled by the Falcons’ third baseman Gus Swanton. Christian Gould then flew out to center and Johnson struck out power hitter Nathan Klein.
Vandor threw a two hitter with nine strikeouts, 1 walk, and 1 earned run for the Crimson Bears.
“That was a pitchers’ duel if I have every seen one,” Race said. “It was one of those games as a third base coach where they are going through so many batters all you can do is watch.”
The Falcons’ Johnson struck out 10, hit three batters, and allowed four hits and two earned runs.
“Dylan threw the ball great tonight,” TMHS coach Matt Greely said. “We have been spoiled to have him this year, he has come up with big performance after big performance and tonight was not different. He just has a lot of confidence in his stuff and when you have confidence in your stuff the game just opens up for you.”
Lehnhart went 1-3 with a double for the Crimson Bears, Norvell 1-3 (single, 2 RBIs), K. Gould 0-3 (walk), C. Gould 1-3 (single), Klein 0-2 (sacrifice bunt), Vandor 0-3, Petrie 1-2 (single, run scored), Grant Ainsworth 0-2, Baseden 0-3 (sacrifice bunt), Pusich 1-1 (single) and Dale a run scored.
For the Falcons, Swanton was 0-3, RJ Markovich 1-3 (single, steal), Jared Markovich 1-3 (single), Patrick Millay 0-2, Pavitt 0-2 (walk, run scored), Cunningham 1-3 (RBI double), Johnson 1-3 (single), Tanner 0-3 and Brian Mielke 0-2.
“Every time we play those guys we know they are a good team,” Race said. “What stood out for us is our guys have been up against the wall before and they play to the last out. Hats off to Dylan and Kurt, they threw their hearts out and it was awesome to watch. And in that kind of weather their control was phenomenal.”
The two teams will square off again on Thursday at 7 p.m. on Adair Kennedy Field, leading into a weekend of baseball action with Ketchikan, Petersburg, and Sitka.
“To the Crimson Bears credit they kept working and they didn’t give up,” Greely said. “We didn’t give up either. We liked where we were at tonight and it was very evident we have improved from last week. We are looking forward to seeing these guys again Thursday.”
See page B3 for the baseball and local sports weekend schedule.