Juneau-Douglas High School baseball player John Blasco was ready when teammate Brett Fairchild struck out Sitka's Cory Gould to end Juneau's 11-7 victory in the second game of a double-header Saturday night at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park.
Blasco grabbed an empty juice bottle and ran out to third base, where he started grabbing dirt and pouring it into the bottle. Blasco said he plans to take the bottle with him when Juneau travels to Sitka in two weeks, and again to Ketchikan the week after that.
``I needed a little dirt from our last game,'' said Blasco, a senior designated hitter-infielder.
For Juneau, which lost the first game of the double-header with Sitka 6-3 Saturday afternoon, winning the nightcap was important. Not only did the victory give Juneau momentum as it heads into a two-week break before its next games, but the victory
came in the last home game for the 10 senior Crimson Bears.
``For the seniors, this was our last game so this was an important game for us to win,'' senior pitcher-third baseman Casey Walker said. ``You saw John with his bottle of dirt. That's how important it was.''
Juneau finished the seasonopening weekend with a 2-2 record after beating Ketchikan 5-3 Friday night (Ketchikan beat Juneau 7-4 on Wednesday). Ketchikan went 3-2 on the weekend, and Sitka was 2-3. Ketchikan took two of three games from Sitka Thursday (a double-header split) and Friday (9-2) in a busy weekend for Southeast teams at Adair-Kennedy.
The Crimson Bears clinched their victory Saturday night when they scored six runs in the fourth inning to break a 4-4 tie. Blasco, Joe Ayers, Dylan Hickey and Kelly Pajinag each hit RBI singles before Walker capped off the rally with a two-run double.
Hickey, who took a no-decision as Juneau's starting pitcher, went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored. Garrett Schoenberger hit a ground-rule double and scored two runs, while Blasco and Ayers also scored twice and Walker had his two-run double to lead Juneau at the plate.
``Our bats started to come alive, and we made a lot less errors,'' Walker said.
``Our hitting was a lot better this game,'' Hickey said. ``We didn't hit that well in the first game.''
Errors nearly helped Juneau give away the nightcap, much like they contributed to the first-game loss. The first three runs scored by Sitka in the nightcap were unearned and a fourth run scored on an error in the outfield (the run was earned because the runner still would have scored had the error not been made). In the early game, four of Sitka's six runs were unearned.
Sitka's offense was led by starting pitcher-shortstop Greg Blankenship, who went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, one run, a double and a triple. Dan Stockel scored a run and had an RBI, while David Gauthier and Steve Hartrich both hit doubles and scored and Gould scored once and was hit by a pitch three times.
But Sitka's offense sputtered when Schoenberger, Juneau's catcher, caught two Wolves trying to steal (one at third and one at second); Hickey picked off a Sitka runner at third base; and Pajinag, Juneau's center fielder, threw out another Sitka runner trying to go from first to third on a single.
Sitka 6, Juneau 3
Mike Schneeberger reached base all four times he batted and scored three times to ignite three two-run rallies for the Wolves in the early game of Saturday's double-header with the Crimson Bears.
Schneeberger singled twice and reached base on two errors, and the last three times he reached base he scored the first run of the inning. Greg Blankenship singled and doubled for Sitka, scoring two runs and driving Schneeberger in twice, Brett Haavig singled and scored a run, and Cory Gould hit a two-run double in the seventh inning to give the Wolves some insurance runs.
``They gave me the opportunity to hit second,'' Schneeberger said. ``I expected to do a lot of bunting, but when no one got on in front of me I was able to swing away. I had good back-up from the guys hitting behind me.''
``I was 0-for-3 and I told myself I was not going 0-for-4,'' said Gould, who picked up a save in relief of starter Brett Haavig. ``I got a nice pitch, got my weight back and gave it a nice shot. That gave us a little more confidence, a little more room.''
Juneau trailed most of the game, but the game ended with the tying run at the plate. In the bottom of the seventh, Juneau scored once and had runners at first and third when Garrett Schoenberger hit a towering popup that Gould squeezed into his glove for the game's final out. Gould, who threw a complete game to beat Ketchikan on Thursday, said his arm felt like jelly after the game and he was worried when Juneau put a runner on third.
John Blasco and Joe Ayers hit back-to-back doubles in the third inning for Juneau's first run, Ayers walked and scored on a single by Grady Treston in the sixth inning, and pinch hitter Brett Fairchild singled and later scored on a passed ball in the seventh inning.
Juneau 5, Ketchikan 3
On Friday, the Crimson Bears rallied for single runs in the fifth and sixth innings, breaking a 3-3 tie, and Garrett Schoenberger hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning as Juneau avenged its loss to the Kings on Wednesday.
``We had to win this game,'' Dylan Hickey said.
``We came to play seven (innings) today. We only played three the last time,'' Juneau's Will Nicholas said.
Ketchikan took the early lead on a solo homer by Donald Munhoven in the first inning and made it 2-0 in the third when Braden Sharp doubled then scored on a grounder by T.J. Milner.
``I got lucky, I guess,'' said Munhoven, who also doubled in the third inning. ``We all hit pretty good.''
Juneau didn't put a runner on base until Kelly Pajinag singled with one out in the third inning, but Pajinag came around to score on a single by John Blasco. Ketchikan made it 3-1 in the fourth when Richard McAlpin reached on an error, went to second on an error, then scored on another error.
``We played through the errors and we were able to get out of the jam,'' Nicholas said. ``Kent (Mearig, the winning pitcher in relief for Juneau) came in with two on and really shut them down.''
Juneau tied the game when Hickey doubled and Schoenberger homered in the fourth. Juneau took a 4-3 lead in the fifth when Jesse Blackwell doubled and scored on a single by Hickey. The Crimson Bears, who had runners thrown out at the plate in both the fifth and sixth innings, added an insurance run in the sixth when Mike Rader reached on an error and scored on a single by Robb Travis.
Ketchikan 9, Sitka 2
Alexis Pahang doubled and homered, scoring twice and driving in two runs to lead the Kings over the Wolves in Friday's early game.
Donald Munhoven scored two runs and T.J. Milner hit an RBI double for the Kings, while Russell Miller threw an efficient 80-pitch, four-hit complete game.
David Gauthier and Dan Stockel both doubled and scored runs for Sitka.