Juneau-Douglas High School's Pedro Mojica hit a home run and picked up the pitching win as the Crimson Bears defeated Wrangell 9-0 Wednesday at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park.
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With the win, JDHS advanced to the second round of the inaugural Southeast Conference tournament. The winner of the tournament will represent the Southeast at the state tournament on June 2 in Fairbanks.
Mojica gave up two hits and walked none over four innings to earn the win. Sophomore Buzz Ward yielded one hit in three innings of relief.
The duo sealed the shutout despite several attempts by Wrangell to push a run across from third base.
"We've been playing pretty well lately, but we need to maintain a steady level of intensity and keep our confidence if we're going to advance through these playoffs," JDHS coach Jim Ayers said.
Juneau has been hot in recent weeks, winning eight of its last nine games.
Wrangell held off the top-seeded Crimson Bears early, trailing just 1-0 after two innings. Nano Jacobsen singled in Joe Kohan in the first to account for Juneau's run.
The Crimson Bears broke through in the bottom of the third.
Jacobsen and Pat Kohan singled sharply to open the inning. Mojica then followed by driving a belt-high offering over the fence for a three-run homer. Andrew Hall later walked and came around to score as JDHS surged to a 5-0 lead.
Hit batsmen and Wrangell errors in the fourth and fifth innings allowed Juneau to extend its lead to nine.
"Everyone did their job today," Ayers said. "They fielded their position and didn't make mistakes defensively, and that with the pitching - it ended up being enough."
The cushion proved more than enough for Mojica on the hill.
"If stuff happens, just calm down and do what you do," Mojica said of the pitching advice the JDHS coaching staff gave him. "Stay relaxed."
Despite the 9-0 loss, Wrangell coach Joe Smith felt proud of his young team.
"Juneau had nine runs by the fifth inning, but we didn't let up and held them," Smith said. "These guys have been working hard, and they've improved a lot."
He noted that his two young pitchers, freshmen Cody Rushmore and Rhyan Groshong, threw well and kept their heads after the defense committed some errors.
Wrangell made seven errors in the game, leading to six of Juneau's nine runs.
At the plate, Juneau's Ward and Pat Kohan each went 2-for-4 with a double and single. Jacobsen, Juneau's catcher, also notched two hits in the win.
Ethan Pempek and Groshong each doubled for the Wolves.
Earlier Tuesday, Sitka won two games to advance in the winner's bracket. The Wolves beat Ketchikan 9-6 and routed Prince of Wales 26-4.
Shawn O'Neill and Tom Stonebreaker had four hits each in the blowout win against POW.
The Southeast Conference playoffs continue today with three games at Adair-Kennedy. Prince of Wales faces Ketchikan in an elimination game at noon. The winner of the noon game takes on Wrangell at 3 p.m. in the loser's bracket while JDHS faces defending state champion Sitka at 6 p.m.
The Juneau Empire sports department can be reached at email@example.com