Service High School’s, and Alaska’s, top pitcher avenged last season’s state tournament loss to Juneau-Douglas by shutting down the Crimson Bears 12-0 on Friday night in semifinal baseball action at Anchorage’s Mulcahy Stadium.
Cougars’ senior Johnny Meszaros allowed just two hits while striking out 10 Crimson Bears, including two in each of the first four innings.
“It was a tough loss,” JDHS coach Will Races said. “I don’t have a lot to say except that I am so proud of our team. It is frustrating as a coach to face a really great pitcher, probably the hardest throwing pitcher in the state, when you have a more complete team. He threw a great game, he has a great future ahead of him, but it is just tough in this type of tournament when it is one and done. I feel like if we saw him again we could compete a lot better. He was untouchable tonight.”
JDHS had rocked a control-plagued Meszaros in last season’s state semifinals and went on to win the championship while the Cougars lost the next game as well.
On Friday JDHS gave the Cougars their first run on a balk call with the bases full of walked batters. Service followed with two doubles and two singles to open a 5-0 lead.
After a leadoff strikeout the Crimson Bears Jackson Lehnhart reached on a double and captain Kyle Gould followed with a hard shot that seemed to have shifted the momentum back to the red and black. Gould, however, would suffer an ankle injury in a failed attempt to stretch the hit into a double and the Crimson Bears felt their biggest loss of the game.
“Getting behind five to nothing is not easy,” Race said. “We were coming back, they wanted it back, but it is really hard when one of your captains goes down.”
Gould had picked the team up on Thursday with a game changing grand slam and Friday’s single showed that Meszaros was not unhittable.
“He is the type of kid that is a silent leader,” Race said. “He always puts the team on his back. When Kyle hits everyone knows they can hit. So it is really tough when someone like that goes down. The wind just went out of our sails. Kyle has a wonderful season. You could tell, from a spectator’s point of view, when he wasn’t out there. He was missed. Everyone looked a little lost. You can’t practice or plan for that. It shows how great a player Kyle is.”
Service threatened again in the second but Tanner Petrie struck out their leadoff hitter, and senior Tal Norvell had two putouts at shortstop to strand two Cougars on base.
Service broke through in the third for two runs, one in the fourth, one in the fifth and three in the sixth.
After retiring the first two hitters in the top of the Crimson Bears’ lineup, Meszaros, Service’s Player Of The Game, struck out the final JDHS batter to the game.
“It was just tough,” Race said. “We have played as a team all year and lost to a very talented player.”
The Cougars’ 12 runs came on 14 hits and two JDHS errors. Tal Norvell was selected JDHS’ Player Of The Game. JDHS had just two hits, a double by Lehnhart in the first inning and a single by Baseden in the third.
JDHS will face Kodiak (an 8-2 loser to south) in the third place game at 1 p.m. Saturday (today). Service faces South for the state title at 4 p.m.