Three hours after squeaking out a 5-4 win over Petersburg at the Region V baseball tournament in Ketchikan on Thursday, the Thunder Mountain Falcons roared even louder with an identical tally in their first-ever varsity win over the top seed Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears.
“It was a huge win for us,” TMHS coach Matt Greely said. “Dylan pitched his heart out and our defense played great behind him and we had some clutch situational hitting. That is the recipe for victory, you will always be in games if you have that.”
Dylan Johnson started for the Falcons and went the distance, throwing 77 pitches, 57 for strikes, with four earned runs, four strikeouts, giving up 11 hits and no walks.
“His game is getting early contact,” Greely said. “He is just a pitcher man.”
JDHS started Jeffrey Pusich on the mound but the Falcons struck for four runs in the top of the first inning.
“It was another heck of a game,” JDHS coach Will Race said. “We lost. We did some things that were not smart and they came out right off the bat ready to play and that is what made the difference.”
For the Falcons, Matt Cunningham led off with a double, RJ Markovich walked, Jared Markovich hit an RBI single to score the first run.
Gus Swanton doubled to score another run, Patrick Millay singled in another run and Jackson Pavitt hit a sharp grounder into a double play that scored the fourth run.
In the bottom of the first Tod Baseden singled for the Crimson Bears and Kyle Gould hit a homerun to make the score 4-2.
JDHS’ Kurt Vandor came on in relief in the second inning and gave up just two hits for the game.
“A team is doing pretty good when they knock out the pitcher in the first inning,” Race said of the Falcons.
In the top of the third JDHS’ Baseden led off with a double and K. Gould hit a double to score Baseden. Johnson then retired the side.
JDHS’ Gary Speck tied the game with a solo home run in the fourth with two outs.
In the seventh inning TMHS’ Johnson grounded to second and reached second on an error. Collin Ludeman pinch ran and Jared Markovich hit a two-out double for the 5-4 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh, with one on and one out, the Crimson Bears hit a shot to right field and the Falcons executed a right field to shortstop to third base relay to pick off the lead runner for the second out. Johnson got the third out to pop up.
“It was a benchmark win for us,” Greely said. “This is one program we haven’t been able to beat, they are a quality program no doubt. It really just speaks to the quality of the team we have. We lost three times to them this season and to be able to have a lead, surrender that lead and then be mentally tough enough to stay in and beat them is just a real credit to our boys. I feel really happy for our seniors. We control our own destiny here. It is nice to have the chance to wrap things up in one game.”
TMHS will play Ketchikan at 3 p.m. today for the one seed at the state tourney. The Kings beat Sitka 2-1 yesterday as the Kings’ Brian Auger and the Wolves’ Erickson Fish went the distance on the mound.
Sitka plays Petersburg in an elimination game at noon today and the winner plays JDHS in another elimination game at 6 p.m. today.
“It is just a tough team loss,” Race said. “It is my fault as a coach. We made too many mental mistakes as a whole team to win that game. We will work back. If anything I think it will make us more focused. Everyone is taking the loss seriously.”
Walk-off double give Falcons 5-4 win over Vikings
TMHS senior Patrick Millay hit a game-winning, walk-off double into left-centerfield in the bottom of the seventh inning against Petersburg in the opening game of the Region V baseball tournament on Thursday at Ketchikan, sending the Falcons into the night cap against top seed Juneau-Douglas. The Falcons started ace Gus Swanton on the mound and he responded with two scoreless innings of work against the Vikings and their ace Kolby Bell. Swanton threw 28 pitches in a dual with Bell.
“Bell was throwing strikes hard,” TMHS coach Matt Greely said. “And we were not able to get to him early.”
The Falcons brought in sophomore reliever Tim Christensen to finish the remaining five innings.
“He didn’t have a lot of help behind him and gave up a few early runs,” Greely said.
Petersburg scored two in the top of the third and added another in the fourth for a 3-0 advantage. The Falcons got one run back in the fourth as Swanton doubled down the left field line with runners on first and second, sending lead runner Matt Cunningham across the plate. Petersburg gained another run in the top of the fifth. The Falcons answered with two runs in their half of the inning. With runners on second and third, and one out, Swanton grounded to third for a run scoring fielders choice. Sophomore Tristan Forrest, pinch running for Jared Markovich, ended up on third. A failed pickoff attempt by the Vikings had an alert Forrest scampering home to bring the Falcons within one run at 4-3.
“Christensen did a great job for us in relief,” Greely said. “He threw 67 pitches, it was a big shot in the arm for our pitching staff.”
In the bottom of the sixth, with two outs and a runner on third, Cunningham tied the game on a 2-0 curveball, sending a base hit into right field. Christensen than disposed of the Vikings in the top of the seventh.
RJ Markovich led off the bottom of the seventh getting hit by a pitch, and then stole second. Jared Markovich struck out on a ball in the dirt and RJ Markovich alertly advanced to third on the throw to first base. Swanton was then hit by a pitch and stole second. With one out the pressure fell on Millay and he blasted a 2-1 pitch on a rope into the field for the win.
“It was a real back and forth contest,” Greely said. “Our guys just kept battling and never gave up. In the Region tournament you are going to be facing a lot of the team’s best pitchers and we responded well.”