The Juneau-Douglas High School baseball team should be feeling pretty good about their chances to repeat as Region V champs after a successful series in Sitka last week.
The Crimson Bears went 4-1 on the road trip, defeating Ketchikan (0-5) three times and splitting two games with Sitka (3-1) to put Juneau on top of the region standings by a half-game lead over the Wolves.
The week was highlighted by two wins over Ketchikan in the game's final at-bat. The first came Wednesday when the Bears, trailing 8-5, scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning for the win. On Friday, C.J. Corso broke a 4-4 tie on a walk-off, three-run shot to give Juneau a 7-4 victory.
"It was a good start," assistant coach Mark Hickey said. "They showed a lot of heart and they didn't give up. They have that kind of character."
This week, Juneau heads to Ketchikan for five games over a four-day stretch. Things get started today when the Crimson Bears take on Ketchikan at 7 p.m. On Thursday, Juneau plays Sitka at 4 p.m. and again at 1 p.m. on Friday. The trip winds down on Saturday when the Bears face Sitka at 11 a.m. and Ketchikan at 3 p.m.
Dylan Hickey stood out last week for the Crimson Bears. The junior started two games, winning one while striking out 10 batters. His best start came in Saturday's 14-2 drubbing of Sitka when he pitched the entire way, giving up just four hits and one earned run.
Junior Brett Fairchild's dominating performance in Friday's 5-3 win over Ketchikan, along with solid outings by senior Will Nicholas and sophomore Zach Kohan, give the Crimson Bears depth at starting pitching.
"We had some inexperienced pitchers but they did fine," head coach Jim Ayers said. "Will (Nicholas) is in a rebuilding program. We used him maybe a little too much. I didn't want him to go over 60 pitches."
Junior Greg Smith and left-handed sophomore Evan Scandling pitched well for Juneau out of the bullpen. Smith recorded the win in Wednesday's 9-8 come-from-behind victory over Ketchikan and also scored the winning run.
Hickey also led the way with his bat, accumulating 11 hits in five games, including a homer and two doubles. C.J. Corso hit the Bears' only other homer of the series with his game-winning, three-run shot against the Kings on Friday.
Junior Jake Dutton, sophomore Matt Freeman and Nicholas all added doubles and sophomore shortstop Joe Ayers added seven hits and several stolen bases over the week.
Juneau outscored their opponents 43-27 in five games, showing strengths in hitting, pitching and defense while playing in foul weather.
"These guys played pretty good considering the conditions," Mark Hickey said. "We made some mistakes running but we started putting the bat on the ball."
With just nine games left in the regular season, five in Ketchikan and four in Juneau next week, the Crimson Bears will need to hold off Sitka to earn their second straight berth in the state baseball tournament.
Jeff Kasper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.