The Juneau-Douglas High School baseball team opened its season in grand fashion last weekend, winning four games - two each - over the Ketchikan Kings and the Sitka Wolves during Juneau's only homestand of the year.
But the Crimson Bears didn't have much time to savor their four victories. There's no rest for the winning.
This afternoon, Juneau opens a series of five games against Sitka and Ketchikan at Sitka's Moller Field. The Crimson Bears play Ketchikan at 2:30 p.m. today, Thursday and Friday, plus they play Sitka at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday and 1 p.m. on Saturday. Sitka and Ketchikan will play two games against each other on Wednesday and Friday.
"I think it's a good thing these guys are going right back in it; I'm glad we don't have a week off," Juneau head coach Jim Ayers said. "We do have a week off before we go to Ketchikan (May 21-24)."
After the way they played last weekend, the Crimson Bears are glad to have a short week. The Juneau players want to stay on a roll.
"It's exhausting, but it's for the love of the game," Juneau senior pitcher-outfielder Chad Dubois said. "We'd go dead if we had too many days off. After this weekend, we're feeling pretty confident. We're playing as a team, but we can always play better."
The only game where Juneau looked shaky was the opener, a 16-9 victory over Ketchikan that saw the Kings rally from a 6-0 deficit to take a 7-6 lead before the Crimson Bears reclaimed the lead for good. Juneau followed that with a 3-0 victory over Sitka, a 13-3 win over Ketchikan and a 12-1 decision over Sitka, with the last two games called after five innings because of the 10-run rule.
Over the four games, Juneau used nine pitchers (only Matt Greely saw action in more than one game, winning once in relief and once as a stater) and the Crimson Bears outscored their opponents 45-13. Juneau committed four errors in the first game, but played errorless ball the rest of the series.
"I think the team looked really well," Juneau senior catcher Isaac Cadiente said. "We just had to calm down and play our game. Now we have to concentrate on improving."
"After the first game, we played 17 innings of flawless ball," Ayers said. "We decided to play tough defense, and that's not easy to do on this field. That's what makes a pitcher like Greely do so well. When you're defense plays tough that helps when you've got a pitcher who can keep the ball down and throw off-speed stuff. Our defense needs to stay focused."
Juneau has eight seniors on the varsity roster (plus two others on the JV team), and that experience helped the younger Crimson Bears adjust to playing high school baseball. Sophomore outfielder Ryan Gorle is the youngest varsity player, but he started several times during the weekend.
"Everybody's hitting, so that's less pressure for me," said Gorle, who was playing his first varsity series. "This is giving us good momentum for Sitka."
Ayers said having an older team means most of the players already know their roles.
"A big part of the game for us is having a guy like (junior infielder-outfielder Erik) Scholl who comes off the bench," Ayers said. "He doesn't complain, but he comes off the bench and gives us key hits and RBIs and he's ready to go."
The Juneau junior varsity team plays the Ketchikan JV and Sitka JV teams on Thursday, then plays the Craig-Prince of Wales varsity team on Friday.
In other games this weekend, the Ketchikan and Sitka JV teams play today and Friday; the Craig-Prince of Wales and Mount Edgecumbe varsity teams play on Thursday (at Japonski Island Field); and the Sitka JV team plays the Craig-Prince of Wales varsity twice on Saturday.
Charles Bingham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.