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One day after winning a sloppy 25-run game over Ketchikan that featured 11 errors, pitching and defense took center stage as the Juneau-Douglas High School baseball team claimed a 3-0 victory over the Sitka Wolves on Thursday night at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park.
Three Juneau pitchers - starter Zach Kohan, reliever Chad Dubois and reliever Sergio Magallanes - combined on a four-hitter as the Crimson Bears improved to 2-0 on the season.
Tough-luck losing pitcher Matt Way threw just 84 pitches in seven innings for Sitka, but took the loss as Juneau's offense recorded eight hits and three doubles. The Wolves, who beat Ketchikan 11-1 earlier on Thursday, fell to 1-1 with the loss while the Kings are 0-2.
"The adage that defense wins games was definitely in play today," said Kohan, who struck out six and allowed three hits through 5 1/3 innings. "It feels good when guys can back you up like that."
"Both pitchers have the same coaching," Sitka coach Ed Conway said. "They're both Tom House guys (House is a former major league pitching coach for the Texas Rangers who played a major role in Nolan Ryan's success), so they do the same towel drill and they put the glove out in front when they pitch. They've watched the same videos. This was a good Sitka-Juneau game, and we haven't had one like that for a couple of years."
After Wednesday's 16-9 victory over Ketchikan, Kohan, who plays third base when he's not on the mound, said playing on the hard-packed sand and clay of Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park's baseball diamond is like "playing on a parking lot with dust."
Kohan said he was happy with the way Juneau's defense played on Thursday, committing no errors. The game's only error came in the fifth inning when Sitka catcher Mike Loucks dropped a foul pop-up, a play some scorers won't log as an error even though the baseball rulebook says it is because it preserves an at-bat.
Even though Juneau's pitchers threw a shutout, Sitka threatened as the Wolves put runners on base in every inning but the fourth. Catcher Bud Baun helped with a pair of pick-off throws that eliminated a runner at third in the first inning and a runner at second in the third inning.
"Picking a few guys off helped," Baun said. "Zach's our hitter, so we do what we can to help him when he's on the mound. This was a good game, it was a tough game."
"I struggled in the first couple of innings, but then I got my change-up working and I could mix my pitches better," Kohan said. "It was definitely a good game and we played up to our defensive capabilities."
Kohan staked himself to a 1-0 lead in the second inning, as he doubled to the fence in right centerfield, took third on a sacrifice bunt by Baun and scored on a grounder by Magallanes.
Juneau had an opportunity to score in the fourth inning, as the Crimson Bears loaded the bases with no outs. But Way escaped the jam by getting Magallanes to hit a come-backer to the mound to start a 1-2-3 double play (pitcher to catcher to first base), then he got Ryan Gorle to ground out to short to end the threat.
The Crimson Bears picked up two insurance runs in the fifth inning as Erik Scholl led off with a double to center, then C.J. Keys followed with an RBI double to left. The next hitter, Nick Wolf, hit an RBI bad-hop single that went off shortstop E.B. Crow's glove, making Loucks pay for the dropped pop up earlier in the at-bat.
"I hit a fastball," Scholl said. "He (Way) had a nice cutter. But we all got into it."
"I hit an 0-2 curve," Keys said. "It was nice just to get something going. He (Way) was throwing good."
Sitka threatened in the sixth inning, putting runners on first and second with one out, but Dubois relieved Kohan and got a strikeout and a fielder's choice to end the threat. In the seventh inning, the Wolves loaded the bases on Dubois with two outs, but Magallanes came in to close out the victory.
"I haven't pitched since my sophomore year, but I felt good," Dubois said. "There are always butterflies."
"I threw two curveballs," said Magallanes, who only needed two pitches to get the game-ending pop-up to Wolf at second base.
While Sitka came out on the losing end of the score, the Wolves said they felt like they're making progress against the defending state champion Crimson Bears.
"Last year they beat me like 18-3, so the team's made progress," Way said.
"We had a few errors and they took advantage," Loucks said. "That's the best I've seen Sitka play against Juneau. We still felt the adrenaline from beating Ketchikan."
In junior varsity action on Thursday, Sitka beat Ketchikan 7-2 and Ketchikan beat Juneau 6-4.
The series continues today with the Sitka and Ketchikan varsity teams playing at 3 p.m. at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park, followed by the Juneau and Ketchikan varsity teams at 6 p.m. In junior varsity action today, the Sitka JV team plays the Prince of Wales varsity at 11 a.m. at Adair-Kennedy, then the Juneau JV team plays Prince of Wales at 2 p.m. at Melvin Park.
The weekend series concludes on Saturday with the Sitka and Juneau varsity teams playing at 3 p.m. and the Ketchikan and Sitka varsity teams tangling at 10:30 a.m., with both games at Adair-Kennedy. The Ketchikan JV team plays the Prince of Wales varsity at 10 a.m. at Melvin Park, while the Sitka and Juneau JV teams close out the series at 6:30 p.m. at Adair-Kennedy.
Wolves 11, Kings 1
In Thursday's early varsity game, Sitka claimed an 11-1 victory over Ketchikan to open its season on a winning note in a game called after five innings because of the 10-run rule.
George Howard picked up the win on the mound with a three-hitter, plus he drove in two runs with a double and a single and he scored three times. Mike Loucks also doubled for Sitka.
Ketchikan took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning on a one-out double by Andrew Kolanko followed by an RBI single from Brandon Eubanks.
Sitka scored four runs in the bottom of the third inning, as Howard, Tyler McCarty and Isaac Reynolds hit RBI singles and another run scored on an error. The Wolves added two more runs in the fourth inning as Tom Stonebreaker led off with a single, then Howard hit a two-out double to score Stonebreaker before scoring when McCarty reached on an error.
The Wolves closed out the game with five runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, keyed by the lead-off double from Loucks. Reynolds, E.B. Crow, Stonebreaker, Karl Stedman and Matt Way hit RBI singles in the inning for Sitka.
Charles Bingham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CRIMSON BEARS 3, WOLVES 0
Thursday's game from Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park
SITKA 000 000 0 - 0 4 1
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS 010 020 x - 3 8 0
Sitka - Way and Loucks. Juneau-Douglas - Kohan, Dubois (6), Magallanes (7) and Baun. WP - Kohan, 1-0. LP - Way, 0-1. Sv - Magallanes (1). 2B - Sitka 0, Juneau-Douglas 3 (Kohan 1, Scholl 1, Keys 1). 3B - None. HR - None.
WOLVES 11, KINGS 1
Thursday's game from Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park
KETCHIKAN 010 00 - 1 3 6
SITKA 004 25 - 11 14 1
(Game called with two outs in fifth inning because of 10-run rule).
Ketchikan - Kr. Bailey and Brown. Sitka - Howard and Loucks. WP - Howard, 1-0. LP - Kr. Bailey, 0-1. Sv - None. 2B - Ketchikan 1 (Kolanko 1), Sitka 2 (Howard 1, Loucks 1). 3B - None. HR - None.