The Gastineau Channel Little League Majors Division All-Stars will not defend their state title as they fell to a scrappy Sitka team 5-1 in the District 2 Championship game in Wrangell on Sunday.
“It was a good close game all the way through, “ Juneau manager Robert Cox said. “We had runners on the bases in the first and missed that opportunity to score.”
The Juneau bats were uncharacteristically silent as the team had just 3 hits and failed to advance runners when on base yet they were in the game the whole way as their fielders kept Sitka to limited runs.
Juneau had an opportunity to score in the bottom of the first inning. With two out Robert Cox Jr. (1-2, 1 RBI, 1 BB) drew a walk, Garrett Johns (0-2, 1 BB) walked and the duo advanced on a passed ball. Sitka hurler Bryan Joseph got the next batter to go down to end the threat.
Sitka then put a run across in the top of the second as JasOran McGraw (1-2, 1 RBI, 1 RS, 1 BB) scored on a Morgan S. (1-1, 1 RBI) single.
Juneau left Kolby Hoover (1-2) stranded on base in the second and fifth innings, Jacob Johnson (1-1) in the fourth.
Sitka scored twice in the third as Kyler Sumauang (1-2, 2 RS, 1 BB) and Bryce Kelly (1-3, 1 RS) crossed the plate on reaches by Cole R. (0-1, 1 RBI) and Kevin David (0-2, 1 RBI), once in the fifth as Sumauang crossed on a McGraw single, and once in the sixth as Joseph (1-2, 1 RS) crossed on a Jacob G. (0-0, 1 RBI) sacrifice bunt.
Juneau had a comeback attempt in the bottom of the sixth as Will Hoover (0-1, 1 BB) walked, Cox doubled to center field, and Johns reached on a fielder’s choice that put out Hoover at the plate. Brandt Hultberg (0-2. 1 RBI) grounded out but scored Cox. Sitka reliever Sumauang got the last Juneau batter to strike out for the win.
Josh DeAsis (0-1), Brennon Ludeman (0-1), Aaron King (0-1), Riley Griffin (0-2), Kyle Carver (0-1), and Luis Mojica (0-2) all had plate appearances.
“We played as good as we could,” Juneau manager Robert Cox said. “We did not get a lot of hits and their pitcher did a really good job.”
K. Hoover started on the mound for Juneau, throwing 60 pitches over 3.1 innings with 29 strikes, striking out three batters, walking two, and allowing three runs (2 earned), on three hits. Hultberg relieved for 2.2 innings (35-28, 2 K, 2 R, 1 ER, 4 H). Sitka’s Joseph allowed just one run on three hits while striking out nine and walking three over 5.2 innings (86 pitches, 52 strikes). Sumauang threw just four pitches, three for strikes, facing just one batter.
Sitka will now play Anchorage’s Abbott-O-Rabbit in a best-of-five State Championship series July 24-29, also at Wrangell. The winner moves on to the Western Regionals in San Bernardino, CA, August 2-10. The GCLL Majors All-Stars won state titles in 2012 and 2010, as GCLL East in 2002 and 2003 and 1998, and as Juneau in 1987.