A five-run fifth inning by Chugiak Post 33 was too much for Juneau’s Midnight Suns Post 25 to make up in a 9-3 loss in the 2013 American Legion Alaska State Tournament semifinal on Tuesday at Anchorage’s Mulcahy Stadium.
“We knew they would be ready to play and they were,” Juneau manager Andy Macaulay said. “When they had guys on base they did a really good job of putting pressured on us.”
The loss puts Juneau in today’s 1 p.m. elimination game against South Post 4, a 13-0 winner over Wasilla Post 35 on Tuesday.
RJ Markovich started on the mound for Juneau, throwing 77 pitches with 49 strikes over five innings, striking out three, walking two and giving up six runs (four earned) on six hits. Tal Norvell relieved (81-47, 3 K, 2 BB, 3 R, 1 ER, 4 H).
Chugiak’s Chase Wilson threw well into the eighth (133-76, 5 K, 7 BB, 3 R, 2 ER, 7 H).
“It was back and forth for four innings,” Macaulay said. “They got some key hits in the fifth inning that gave them some breathing room. Overall we just made way too many errors on routine plays that we can’t do if we want to win.”
Chugiak scored one run in the top of the first inning as leadoff hitter Alex Hess (3-5, 1 RBI, 3 RS) singled and scored on a two-out hit by Wilson (1-4, 1 RBI, 1 RS) that resulted in a fielding error.
Juneau’s first run came in the bottom of that inning. After a Tod Baseden (2-5, 1 RBI) ground out, Kellen Johansen (0-3, 1 RBI, 1 RS, 1 BB) walked, Tal Norvell (2-4, 1 BB) lined out to third, and RJ Markovich (0-4, 1 BB) walked. Christian Gould (0-2, 1 BB) reached on an error at first base and Johansen scored on the action. Markovich, Gould and Collin Ludeman (0-3, 1 BB) were left stranded on the bags.
Tanner Petrie (2-3, 1 RS) and Baseden were left on base in the second inning; Norvell in the third; Patrick Millay (0-1, 1 RS, 2 BB) in the fourth; Kurt Vandor (1-4), Petrie and Millay in the sixth; and Baseden in the ninth.
For four innings the two clubs were solid on the defensive end. Baseden was credited by the coaching staff for making one of the tournament’s most athletic defensive plays, chasing down a Wilson power shot to the fence, laying his body out and snagging the extra base shot for an out.
Chugiak’s big fifth inning started with Cody Curpman (0-4, 2 RS, 1 BB) earning a walk, advancing to second on a Hess sacrifice and scoring on a Devin Ferris (2-4, 2 RBI, 1 RS) single. Conner Cimmiyotti (2-5, 2 RBI, 1 RS) doubled to score Ferris and Wilson reached on an error with Cimmiyotti scoring in the action. Zach Brueggeman (1-4, 1 RBI, 1 RS) doubled to left scoring Wilson and Alex Bozzo (1-5, 1 RBI) singled to center scoring Brueggeman.
“We talked about errors all season,” Macaulay said. “That we need to do a better job of making the plays that we know the kids are capable of. When we make fielding errors it makes it tough for our pitcher and it gives them extended at bats when that happens. Good teams are going to capitalize on that.”
Chugiak added another run in the sixth as Hess singled to right field and scored on a Cimmiyotti single to left field. In the ninth inning Curpman scored on a Hess double and Ferris singled Hess across the plate for their final run.
“It was a combination of things,” Macaulay said. “Chugiak did a good job of stealing bases and with runners in scoring position they got key, timely hits. Whenever we had guys on base and were trying to get momentum Chugiak made the plays they were supposed to and turned some double plays.”
Juneau bats started a rally too late in the bottom of the ninth. Petrie singled, Millay walked and Baseden doubled to score Petrie, and Johansen hit a sacrifice fly to score Millay for the final 9-3 score. Norvell followed with a walk but Chugiak relief pitcher Cimmiyotti threw one pitch in his mound appearance that forced Markovich into a line drive double play that ended the game.
“RJ ripped that ball,” Macaulay said. “He hit a screaming line drive and their second baseman was in the right position. Three feet to the left or right and we would have had a couple runs. That is the breaks.”
Continued Macaulay, “”We didn’t give up. We got that rallying going. Those errors were tough. The kids aren’t out there to purposely make errors. The thing we preach is that this is a game where mistakes are going to happen, in the field or at bat, and when they do happen the kids just have to be able to move on to the next play and focus on the next play or the next pitch. Leave the past in the past. There is always a next play and we need to play hard through all nine innings. If we win today we get to play Thursday and we still have a chance to win this thing.”
The last three champions of the Alaska State Legion tourney have come back through the loser’s bracket. Kenai did it last year, beating Chugiak.
The winner of Thursday’s championship game will go to the American Legion Northwest Regional Tournament in Eugene, Oregon. The loser will get to travel as well, playing in the NWCART Invitational Tournament in Wheaton, Wyoming against the runner’s up from the state’s represented at the Eugene tourney.
Elimination game: South Post 4 (13), Wasilla Post 35 (0)
Third-seeded South Post 4 put up 13 runs in a mercy rule shortened seven-inning shut out over one-seed Wasilla Post 35 on Tuesday morning, sending Wasilla home and keeping many of the boys from the 2013 State High School Championship Wolverines in contention for the Legion title.
As a matter of fact, South Post 4 picked up Service High School’s State All-Tourney selection Matt Ilalio for their legion roster. Ilalio went 2-5 with 1 RBI and 1 run scored.
South (23-7) scoring looked like a mathematical code as they put runs across the plate in each inning with 3-3-2-1-1-2-1. Spencer Floyd (2 RBI, 2 RS) and Andy Schafer (3 RBI), 1 RS) had three hits apiece and eight of the nine batters had at least one base hit, seven drove in at least one run. Brad Butcher was 2-2 (2 RBI, 3 RS).
Nick Jensen held the Wasilla Road Warriors (24-9) to just three hits while striking out three and walking none.
South will play their third straight elimination game today at 1 p.m. against Juneau Post 25.