There’s no remedy like a walk-off win to uplift a team on a three-game losing skid.
Juneau-Douglas High School senior Erik Kelly’s two-RBI single to center field lifted the Crimson Bears to a 4-3 win over Thunder Mountain High School on Tuesday night at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park.
Down several key starters, JDHS (8-5, 6-3 SEC) dropped three games to Ketchikan over the weekend.
The Crimson Bears lost their non-conference season opener 14-4 to TMHS but rebounded with 3-2 and 13-12 wins over the Falcons (4-9, 2-7 SEC) heading into Tuesday’s game.
Bentz and Kelly had ample time to discuss hitting strategy with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh inning. Umpires deliberated for 10 minutes when the fourth batter of the inning, senior Luke Mallinger, took ball four, a wild pitch over the mitt of catcher Gabe Storie. Dale came home to tie the game on the play and Cesar advanced to third. However, the umpires ruled neither Dale nor Cesar (who was on second) could advance on the basepaths due to catcher interference.
Thanks to Kelly, it wouldn’t end up making a difference.
“I just said, ‘Hey, either way, I just want you to go and have a good approach, take a strike, and then once you get that strike, attack it, don’t help them, but attack it,’” JDHS coach Chad Bentz said. “And he did, that was a laser, and I was not stopping Mike (Cesar).”
Cesar scored from second base and Jacob Dale from third base on the game-ending play.
TMHS sophomore Bryson Echiverri’s RBI single put the Falcons up 3-2 in the fourth inning. The lead held up for a while, but Dale singled to left and Cesar walked before the Falcons could record their first out in the seventh.
“You never know how it’s going to end but we had our 2-3-4 guys up to bat so I had confidence in them,” JDHS senior Donavin McCurley said.
McCurley pitched a complete game, allowing just seven hits and one earned run. He struck out five.
The compact pitcher was one of nine seniors recognized before the game for senior night. Kelly, Cesar, Dale, Mallinger, Kasey Watts, Kane Ginter, Brandon Keeler and Bryan Miramontes were the eight others.
“This is our last year on this field so we had to get it done, we needed to get it done,” McCurley said. “The rest of the season, we got to get it done. That’s our motto.”
The Falcons took a 2-0 lead in the third, but Watts’ home run in the bottom half of the inning tied things up at 2-2.
TMHS hosts Petersburg for three games this weekend at Adair-Kennedy, while JDHS pays a visit to Moller Field in Sitka for three games against the Wolves.
The Region V baseball tournament is May 24-26 in Sitka.