Last season Juneau’s Gastineau Channel Little League Majors Division enjoyed playoff battles at Wrangell with their season ending by the score of 5-1 to Sitka in the District Championship.
This year Juneau will host the 2014 District Championships beginning Saturday, July 12, on Miller Field, with their sights set on heading to the shades and board shorts in California and, hopefully, a long life on the sunny region diamonds there.
“I have to say that this year’s team is really deep with pitching,” GCLL Majors manager Jeremy Ludeman said. “I think we have a lot of power and a lot of good attitudes.”
To get out of Districts, the State Championships in Anchorage (July 23-28) and on to the Regional in San Bernardino, CA. (August 1-10), the Juneau boys will have to be multi-positional.
“The thing is every one of these guys is a pitcher,” Ludeman said. “Every single one of them has thrown effectively throughout the regular season.”
The GCLL Majors are catcher/second base Brandt Hultberg (10), second base/outfielder Brennon Ludeman (14), third base/outfield Brock McCormick (4), short stop/outfielder Bryson Echiverri (7), outfielder Cameron Eppers (12), first base/catcher Christian Ludeman (17), second base/outfielder Cody Requa (9), catcher/short stop Gabe Storie (11), catcher/third baseman Kyle Carver (15), short stop/outfielder Luis Mojica (8), first base/outfielder Olin Rawson (5), outfielder/third baseman Tosh Robinson (2), third base/outfielder Tristan Harwell (1), manager Ludeman and coaches Jeff Hultberg and Spencer Storie.
“It is a great group of boys,” Ludeman said. “They can play just about any where. They have great skill sets across the board and in the key positions like pitcher and catcher we are deep.”
Positions may change during tournament play.
A team’s pitching depth is extremely important with the little league pitching rules, as back-to-back games require multiple pitchers.
Pitchers, up to age 11-12, can throw up to a maximum of 85 pitches in a day with rest requirements.
Throwing 1-20 pitches in a day will result in zero rest days, 21-35 pitches has a mandatory one day rest, 36-50 requires two days rest, 51-65 pitches is three days rest, and 66-85 pitches in a day earns four days rest.
“So if you have three games in four days, and they are tough games, there is a lot of strategy involved,” Ludeman said. “Pitching depth becomes crucial at that point.”
A pitcher who throws 70 pitches in a district championship win would not be able to open the state championship series four days later. The pitching rule, implemented by Little League International in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania, prevents youth arm injury and coaches from over pitching young players.
Before thinking of a state or regional appearance, however, the Majors must first deal with Sitka, Ketchikan and Petersburg.
District play begins with round robin action at Miller Field on Saturday, July 12, as Sitka plays Ketchikan (3 p.m.) and Petersburg gets Juneau (6 p.m.). On Sunday, July 13, Petersburg plays Sitka (3 p.m.) and Ketchikan meets Juneau (6 p.m.). On Monday, July 14, Ketchikan plays Petersburg (3 p.m.) and Sitka plays Juneau (6 p.m.).
The teams will then be seeded in a double elimination tournament that begins Tuesday, July 15, with games at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Play continues on Wednesday with an elimination bracket game at 3 p.m. and a winners bracket game at 6 p.m.
Thursday, July 17, will feature a play-in game at noon. The championship game is Friday, July 18, at 6 p.m., with an “if necessary” game on Saturday, July 19, at 6 p.m.
“I am looking forward to a good tournament,” Ludeman said. “We can go the distance, absolutely.”
The Ketchikan Majors roster includes Ar-Jhay Mendoza, Carver Finley, CJ Casper, CJ Paule, Devin Dalin, Hayden McGarrigan, Jackson Kaye, James Norland, Kristian Pihl, Nolan Hughes, Tyler Slick, Tyler Traudt, Vinny Trujillo, coaches Kris Pihl and Jim McGarrigan and manager Derek McGarrigan.
The Sitka Majors roster includes Carson Grant, Dominic Baciocco, Emanuel Barragan, Izaac Roth, Joey Gray, Keaton Koelling, Kyler Brenton, Mason Eubanks, Mikey Casey, Reese Greenough, Ryan Bartlett, Sidney Fleming, Trevin Carley, coaches John Baciocco and Kenny Carley, and manager Lonny Greenough.
Petersburg’s roster was unavailable at press time.
After defeating Juneau for the District title Sitka lost to Anchorage’s Abbott-O-Rabbit in the best-of-five State Championship Series, three games to one, also at Wrangell. Abbott-O-Rabbit did not advance out of the Northwest Regionals in San Bernardino, losing to Washington 10-2, Montana 3-0, and Idaho 9-0, and defeating Wyoming 11-1.