It was time for a little extra work after the two-time defending state champion Juneau-Douglas High School baseball team lost the second game of Friday's doubleheader with Ketchikan.
So the older Crimson Bears rounded up their teammates and took them to the batting cage Saturday morning, before that day's doubleheader at Ketchikan's Norman Walker Field. That made the difference, as the Crimson Bears rebounded from Friday's split to sweep Saturday's doubledip with a pair of 10-run-rule victories.
Juneau won 14-3 and 10-0 on Saturday after winning 3-2 in Friday's opener and losing 6-3 in the nightcap.
"It was tremendous," Juneau coach Jim Ayers said of the weekend, which included a pair of non-conference victories over Prince of Wales in Craig on Thursday. "We were wondering if we were in the shadow of last year's team, and we showed we can play some competitive baseball.
"Our team chemistry really came together on this trip, and our older guys got up early today and they went to the batting cage on their own. We're thrilled."
The Crimson Bears (5-1 overall, 3-1 Region V-Class 4A) were replacing their entire infield and top catchers from last year, and the newcomers to those positions made significant contributions this weekend. Shortstop Erik Scholl anchored the middle of Juneau's defense, while Chris Dillon handled the catching.
"Erik Scholl just did a tremendous job on defense and leading the team. He had an RBI every game and he made two spectacular plays on defense," Ayers said. "Chris Dillon has been in the bullpen, in the mud and (slop) for the last two years and never getting any playing time. He made every pitcher better and he called the whole game (Saturday's late game) himself; I only called one pitch. He took good care of our pitchers."
In Friday's opener, Dillon's opposite-field RBI single in the top of the seventh inning drove in the winning run to close out a game that saw a bit of controversy and strong pitching performances from Zach Mixson and Matt Greely. Mixson also hit an RBI double for Juneau.
In the fourth inning, Ketchikan starting pitcher Casey Bass was ejected, then reinstated into the game after Juneau's Tres Saldivar scored a run off a wild pitch. Bass landed on top of Saldivar and then, when Saldivar tried to get up, appeared to push Saldivar back into the dirt.
One umpire ejected Bass, but Bass was returned to the game after a conference with other umpires. Ayers said he was playing the game under protest, but the issue became moot when Juneau won the game.
In the nightcap, Ketchikan (4-4 region) scored five runs in the first inning and another run in the second as Juneau starter Geno Vick struggled with his location. But relievers Sam Muse and Jordan Gray held the Kings in check as Juneau tried to battle back in the late innings, scoring single runs in the third, fifth and sixth innings.
Andrew Kolanko hit a two-run homer in the first inning to lead Ketchikan. C.J. Keys had two hits, stole four bases and scored twice to lead Juneau, while Saldivar and Scholl had RBI singles.
"We kept our cool and never lost our tempers once, not even on the brief ejection," Ayers said. "The game we lost was a game we lost," because of Juneau's own mistakes.
In Saturday's opener, Scholl went 3-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI to lead Juneau. Saldivar doubled, scored three runs and hit an RBI, while Mixson and winning pitcher Sergio Magallanes had two RBIs each and Ryan Gorle doubled. Corey Howe doubled and scored a run for Ketchikan.
In Saturday's late game, sophomore Jesse Nelson threw a three-hitter and struck out five to pick up the shutout. Nelson left the bases loaded in the second inning and two more Ketchikan runners were on base at the end of the third, when Juneau led 1-0 on Gorle's solo homer in the top of the second inning.
But Nelson settled down and Juneau's bats - led by Mixson's two-run double and Gorle's three RBIs - gave him some breathing room. Scholl and Mixson scored twice each for the Crimson Bears, while Ricky Grams doubled for Ketchikan.
"We had an open spot in our rotation, and I think we just filled it," Ayers said of Nelson's performance.
The Crimson Bears hit the road again this weekend for four games Friday and Saturday in Sitka (1-3 region). Juneau can take a commanding lead in the race for Region V's lone state playoff berth with a strong performance in Sitka, with just home games left to close out the season late in the month.
The Juneau Empire sports desk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CRIMSON BEARS 14, KINGS 3
Saturday's first game from Norman Walker Field
(game ended after five innings, 10-run rule)
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS 206 06 - 14 10 4
KETCHIKAN 101 10 - 3 3 8
Juneau-Douglas - Magallanes and Dillon. Ketchikan - Grams, Pahan (4), Krum (5) and Brown, Kolanko (5). WP - Magallanes. LP - Grams. Sv - None. 2B - Juneau-Douglas 4 (Scholl 2, Saldivar 1, Gorle 1), Ketchikan 1 (C. Howe 1). 3B - None. HR - None.
CRIMSON BEARS 10, KINGS 0
Saturday's second game from Norman Walker Field
(game ended after five innings, 10-run rule)
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS 010 45 - 10 12 1
KETCHIKAN 000 00 - 0 3 2
Juneau-Douglas - J. Nelson and Dillon. Ketchikan - Voetberg, Altman (5) and Brown. WP - J. Nelson. LP - Voetberg. Sv - None. 2B - Juneau-Douglas 1 (Mixson 1), Ketchikan 1 (Grams 1). 3B - None. HR - Juneau-Douglas 1 (Gorle 1), Ketchikan 0.
CRIMSON BEARS 3, KINGS 2
Friday's first game from Norman Walker Field
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS 000 101 1 - 3 5 2
KECHIKAN 000 101 0 - 2 6 0
Juneau-Douglas - Mixson, Greely (5) and Dillon. Ketchikan - Bass and Brown. WP - Greely. LP - Bass. Sv - None. 2B - Juneau-Douglas 1 (Mixson 1), Ketchikan 0. 3B - None. HR - None.
KINGS 6, CRIMSON BEARS 3
Friday's second game from Norman Walker Field
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS 001 011 0 - 3 5 3
KETCHIKAN 510 000 x - 6 5 2
Juneau-Douglas - Vick, Muse (1), Gray (5) and Dillon. Ketchikan - Montgomery and Brown. WP - Montgomery. LP - Vick. Sv - None. 2B - None. 3B - None. HR - Juneau-Douglas 0, Ketchikan 1 (Kolanko 1).
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