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The Juneau-Douglas High baseball team beat the Ketchikan Kings 5-4 Wednesday to move within one game of clinching the lone Region V berth at the inaugural state tournament.
Trailing 4-1 after five innings, the Crimson Bears rallied to score once in the sixth and three times in the seventh to pull out the victory in Ketchikan.
``Our guys continued to demonstrate they can come back in the late innings,'' Juneau coach Jim Ayers said. ``We seem to play our best ball in the fifth through seventh innings, once we get our jitters out.''
Juneau (7-3 on the season) can clinch the region title with a victory over Sitka in today's 3 p.m. game in Ketchikan. Juneau also plays Sitka at noon on Friday and at noon again on Saturday, then concludes the road trip with a 3 p.m. game against Ketchikan on Saturday. Sitka plays Ketchikan at 6 p.m. today and again at 6 p.m. on Friday.
The worst the Crimson Bears can finish is 7-7. Ketchikan (5-6) needs to win all three of its remaining games, and have Juneau lose all four of its last games to steal the title. Sitka (3-6) needs to win all five of its remaining games, while Juneau loses all three of its games to Sitka, in order to claim the title. Juneau currently holds the tie-breaker edge over Ketchikan, and the Crimson Bears can gain the tie-breaker over Sitka with just one victory in their three games this weekend.
``We win one more game and we're in,'' Ayers said. ``That's the reason to go after this game (Thursday). Sitka can definitely put the bat on the ball.''
Senior right-handed pitcher Casey Walker started for Juneau and held Ketchikan hitless through the first three innings, then gave up an unearned run and two hits in the fourth. Senior lefty Kent Mearig relieved Walker with one out in the fifth, but struggled as his defense allowed three unearned runs. Mearig got out of the fifth, but in the sixth he walked a batter and gave up a hit before being pulled for junior Will Nicholas, who retired the next three batters to escape the jam. Nicholas, who was fighting a bad headache, only allowed one hit in the seventh as he shut down the Kings with two strikeouts in the inning.
``Walker and Nicholas were the game for us,'' Ayers said. ``It was a hell of a defensive game.''
Juneau scratched out a run in the fourth as Grady Treston singled in Garrett Schoenberger, then scored again in the sixth as Schoenberger trotted home on a bobbled grounder to short by Kelly Pajinag.
With one out in the seventh, Robb Travis walked and went to third on a single by John Blasco. Ketchikan starter Ethan Berto then intentionally walked Joe Ayers to load the bases, and was pulled for reliever T.J. Milner. Dylan Hickey singled to left to score Travis, and Schoenberger singled to right to score Blasco and Ayers for the winning runs.
Schoenberger led Juneau with two runs and two RBIs, while Treston, Pajinag and Hickey each had one RBI.
Donald Munhoven led Ketchikan with two RBIs in the fifth, and by Alexis Pahang who had an RBI and a run. There were no extrabase hits in the game.
``Ketchikan is one of the best teams I've seen,'' Ayers said. ``They proved that by winning the state invitational last year. They're well-disciplined and wellcoached.'' CRIMSON BEARS 5 KINGS 4 Wednesday's game at Ketchikan JUNEAU-DOUGLAS000 101 3 - 5 7 4 KETCHIKAN000 130 0 - 4 7 3
Juneau-Douglas - Walker, Mearig (5), W. Nicholas (6) and Schoenberger. Ketchikan - Berto, Milner (7) and McAlpin. W - W. Nicholas. L - Berto. Sv - None. 2B - None. 3B - None. HR - None.