The Juneau Midnight Suns baseball team closed out its preseason road trip to the Flying Dog Invitational in Peoria, Ariz., last week with a pair of come-from-behind victories over the Jesuit Crusaders of Portland, Ore., and the Fairview Knights of Boulder, Colo.
The two victories gave the Midnight Suns a 3-1-1 record for the trip, with the only loss coming to the Heritage Eagles of Littleton, Colo., the top-ranked Class 5A team in Colorado in the preseason poll run by the Rocky Mountain News.
"We had a great outing, maybe one of the best outings we've ever had in Arizona," coach Jim Ayers said.
The Midnight Suns roster is the same one that will be used for the defending state champion Juneau-Douglas High School Crimson Bears. The team traveled under the Midnight Suns name, since that's the organization that raised the money for the preseason trip. The Flying Dog Invitational featured 14 teams, five from Arizona, four from Oregon, three from Colorado and two from Alaska (Juneau and East Anchorage, which went 3-3).
Juneau opened the trip with a come-from-behind 7-7 tie against the Sunset High School Apollos of Beaverton, Ore., on Monday, followed by a 7-3 victory over South Salem Saxons (Ore.) on Tuesday. Details of those games appeared in the March 26 issue of the Juneau Empire.
On Wednesday, March 26, Juneau lost 11-8 to the Heritage Eagles, although the Midnight Suns were rallying at the end.
"They jumped out to a pretty good lead, but we kept chipping away," assistant coach Bruce Scandling said. "It was typical Juneau baseball. By the end of the game we had the tying run in the on-deck circle."
Scandling said Nick Wolf started for Juneau, but the Midnight Suns let him down in the field as they kicked the ball around to allow some unearned runs. Bryan Hamey and Geno Vick both saw their first varsity action for the baseball team in relief, then Zach Mixson had a long relief stint where he held Heritage while Juneau was able to come back.
On Thursday, Juneau beat the Jesuit Crusaders 9-8 with the winning runs coming in the bottom of the seventh inning. Evan Scandling started for Juneau and took a shutout into the fourth inning when he was hit in the foot by a line drive and had to come out of the game. Zach Kohan relieved Scandling, but he, too, was hit by a line drive in the elbow and had to come out. Mixson relieved, then Sergio Magallanes pitched the final two innings for the victory.
Wolf and Magallanes both went 2-for-3 for the Midnight Suns, while Joe Ayers was 1-for-3 with a two-run double and two runs scored.
"This was a great game with lots of action," Jim Ayers said. "Sergio came up huge for us, and Nick Wolf continued to do a good job as the leadoff hitter."
Juneau closed out the trip on Friday with a 3-2 victory over the Fairview Knights, with Joe Ayers scoring the game-winning run in the eighth inning on a sacrifice fly by Ryan Gorle. Ayers went 2-for-3, scored two runs and had two stolen bases, while catcher Chris Dillon went 1-for-3 with a run scored and he threw two runners out on the basepaths.
Matt Greely started the game and took a shutout into the fifth inning, with eight strikeouts, when he was hit by a line drive off the elbow and had to be relieved. Vick relieved, followed by Magallanes and then Kohan, who picked up the win in relief.
"Nick Wolf is going to be a great leadoff hitter for us, he proved that," Jim Ayers said. "Joe (Ayers) was pretty rusty, but he finished strong and by the end he had a little shine on his game.
"Clearly the southpaws - Sergio Magallanes and Evan Scandling - were the MVPs of this tournament for us. Our young pitchers - Mixson, Vick and Magallanes - are going to have a great future. Bryan Hamey did a good job spot-pitching for us after four years away from baseball. Bud Baun and Zach Kohan showed we have some power in the lineup. Chris Dillon, our sophomore, is going to be a great catcher, and senior (catcher) Isaac Cadiente is a stabilizing force behind the plate. He's lean and mean after wrestling."