Bears lay claim to region's top spot

Posted: Monday, May 22, 2000

The Juneau-Douglas High School baseball team climbed into first place in the Region V standings after winning four out of its five games this weekend in Sitka.

Even though the Crimson Bears suffered a 3-1 loss to Ketchikan to open play Saturday, they still managed to claim a 10-7 victory over host Sitka in the nightcap to take control of the league standings. Juneau won both of its games on Friday, beating Ketchikan 5-3 and Sitka 8-2, while Ketchikan beat Sitka 5-1.

But the Crimson Bears moved into the league lead on Thursday as they escaped a dicey situation late in a 13-6 victory over first-week standings leading Ketchikan followed by a Sitka upset 8-1 victory over the Kings in the late game.

In Thursday's game, which went 3 1/2 hours, Juneau needed four pitchers to escape with a tenuous 8-6 lead in the top of the fifth inning. Then Garrett Schoenberger's grand slam homer capped a five-run rally in the bottom half of the frame as Juneau regained control of a game it led 6-0 after two innings.

And to top things off, Sitka's Brett Haavig went the distance on the mound and added a three-run homer as the Wolves upset Ketchikan in the nightcap.

``Our guys were really pumped,'' Juneau coach Jim Ayers said. ``We came in (to the weekend) a half-game out, and by the end of the day we were up a half-game in the standings. We made up 1 1/2 games on Ketchikan Thursday.''

Juneau (6-3 this season) jumped on Ketchikan starter Ethan Berto, chasing him from the mound after two innings after scoring four runs in the first frame and two in the second. Ketchikan (5-5) closed the advantage to 6-3 in the third inning as Richard McAlpin hit a two-run homer and Alexis Pahang added a solo shot. But Juneau made it 8-3 in the fourth on a two-run homer by Grady Treston.

Then, in the top of the fifth inning, after Ayers pulled starter Will Nicholas, Juneau's pitching began to fall apart. Evan Tromble relieved Nicholas to open the inning, but gave up solo homers to Don Munhoven and Brandon Nicholas. Ayers tried Evan Scandling and Brett Fairchild without success, then brought Kent Mearig in with the bases loaded and Ketchikan threatening to take the lead. Mearig closed out the inning, then pitched two more scoreless frames to earn the save.

``The game was in the fifth inning,'' Ayers said. ``Being able to come out of it (with the lead), then to score in the bottom of the inning, that was the key. They definitely had the momentum.''

Schoenberger led Juneau with five RBIs and three runs scored in the game, while Treston had four RBIs and two runs scored. Juneau also had two walks and a hit apiece from its top three hitters, with John Blasco scoring three runs, Joe Ayers two and Dylan Hickey one.

On Saturday, Juneau had to pull off another escape act to beat Sitka in the late game.

With runners on second and third and two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, relief pitcher Casey Walker got Sitka's Greg Blankenship to hit a towering pop fly that second baseman Robb Travis caught after chasing it around in the wind. Starting pitcher Brett Fairchild picked up the victory after allowing just two hits and four runs in five innings.

Blasco went 3-for-3 with a double and a run scored to lead Juneau, while Walker and Travis each scored two runs and Kelly Pajinag added two RBIs and a run. Stephen Hartrich went 2-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and a run scored to lead the Wolves (3-6 on the season).

Earlier on Saturday, Ketchikan's T.J. Milner tossed a threehitter to beat Juneau. Dylan Hickey was the hard-luck loser for the Crimson Bears, scattering four hits but giving up three runs (two unearned). Treston led Juneau with two hits, and Hickey drove in Walker for Juneau's only run. Ethan Berto hit a double to lead Ketchikan.

In a heavy rain on Friday, Juneau beat Ketchikan for the third time in five games this season as Walker picked up the victory on the mound and added an RBI at the plate. Mearig earned the save and Blasco scored two runs for Juneau, with Schoenberger, Treston and Will Nicholas scoring the other Crimson Bear runs. Don Munhoven only gave up one earned run for Ketchikan, which had problems fielding the ball.

Later on Friday, Juneau beat Sitka as the Crimson Bears used just four hits to score eight runs. Mearig picked up the victory, as he and Tromble combined on a two-hitter. Schoenberger hit a tworun homer to lead Juneau, while Joe Ayers had a double, two RBIs and two runs scored, and Treston scored twice.

In the finale Friday, Ketchikan beat Sitka as Munhoven hit a three-run homer.

The 4-1 weekend leaves Juneau with a good chance to claim the lone Region V berth in the inaugural state tournament June 2-3 at Hermon Brothers Field in Palmer. Juneau and Sitka both head to Ketchikan this coming weekend for three more days of region games, and Juneau will have a 1-game lead on the Kings. Juneau and Sitka will each play Ketchikan twice, plus they will play each other three times to close out the regular season.

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