The Juneau-Douglas High baseball team needed to come from six runs down in Saturday's regular-season finale to do it, but the Crimson Bears were able to sweep all five of their games this weekend in Ketchikan.
Juneau used a pickle play - where Mike Rader attempted to steal second then stopped so Brett Fairchild could make a delayed steal of home while Rader was being tagged out - in the top of the seventh inning to close out the regular season with a 9-8 victory over the host Kings. The Crimson Bears trailed 8-2 after three innings, but rallied down the stretch to complete the sweep.
``It was outstanding the way they responded,'' Juneau coach Jim Ayers said. ``I'm obviously very happy with how we did, to come from behind by six runs in a nothing game like that after we'd already clinched the region title.''
Earlier on Saturday Juneau beat Sitka 13-4 and on Friday Juneau beat Sitka 8-3. The Crimson Bears downed Ketchikan 5-4 on Wednesday and Sitka 6-4 on Thursday to clinch the lone Region V berth to the inaugural state tournament June 2-3 at Palmer's Hermon Brothers Field.
The Crimson Bears, who finished their regular season with an 11-3 record, will play North Pole this Friday in the first round of the state tournament. East Anchorage will play either Kodiak or Colony, who were battling for the Region III title, in Friday's other first-round game. Friday's winners will play each other for the state championship on Saturday, while the losers will play for third place.
Juneau needed late rallies to win three of its five games this weekend, and Saturday's season finale was no exception. Juneau scored two runs in the top of the first inning, but Ketchikan (7-7) came back with two runs in the bottom of the first. Then Donald Munhoven drove in two more with a two-run homer in the second. Kahi added four runs in the third off a solo homer by Ethan Berto and a three-run shot by Alexis Pahang.
Then the Crimson Bears began chipping away, scoring runs in the fourth and fifth innings to set up a three-run sixth inning capped by a two-run pinch-hit homer by Brian Heimbigner. Juneau scored twice in the seventh inning, with the winning run scoring on what Ayers called ``the pickle play.''
Ayers said the Juneau offense was pretty spread out, with Jesse Blackwell going 2-for-4 with two runs, Dylan Hickey going 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI, and John Blasco going 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run.
Earlier on Saturday, it was Juneau that enjoyed an 8-2 lead after three innings against a worn-out Sitka team (3-11) that went 0-5 on the weekend. But Sitka couldn't mount a comeback as Grady Treston hit a two-run homer in the fourth to keep Juneau's momentum going. Blasco and Robb Travis both tripled for Juneau, with the Travis triple driving in two runs, while Joe Ayers, Garrett Schoenberger and Treston each hit doubles.
The lone Sitka offensive highlight was a two-run homer in the second inning by Greg Blankenship.
After clinching the title on Thursday, coach Ayers decided to turn Friday's game with Sitka into Seniors' Night for the first half of the game and started seniors. Then he brought in his non-seniors to close out the game, giving the region a glimpse into Juneau's future.
Ayers said each group of players scored four runs, and the lead-off spot went 4-for-4 with Blasco and Will Nicholas each going 2-for-2 with a run. Garrett Schoenberger hit his team-leading fourth homer in the game - a solo shot in Juneau's five-run fifth inning - while Brian Thatcher added a double as the next batter.
Also on Friday, Ketchikan beat Sitka 6-0 as Brandon Nicholas hit a pair of homers and T.J. Milner pitched a shutout.
CRIMSON BEARS 9
Saturday's late game from Ketchikan
Juneau-Douglas - Mearig, W. Nicholas (3), Walker (6) and Schoenberger. Ketchikan - Munhoven, Miller (6), B. Nicholas (7) and McAlpin. W - Walker. L - Miller. Sv - None. 2B - Juneau-Douglas: Hickey, Walker; Ketchikan: Pahang. 3B - None. HR - Juneau-Douglas: Heimbigner; Ketchikan: Munhoven, Berto, Pahang.
CRIMSON BEARS 13
Saturday's early game from Ketchikan
Juneau-Douglas - Hickey, Fairchild (6) and Schoenberger, Kostenko (4), Thatcher (5). Sitka - Haavig, Gould (4) and Stockel. W - Hickey. L - Haavig. Sv - None. 2B - Juneau-Douglas: Ayers, Schoenberger, Treston; Sitka: None.. 3B - Juneau-Douglas: Blasco, Travis; Sitka: None. HR - Juneau-Douglas: Treston; Sitka: Blankenship.
CRIMSON BEARS 8
Friday's game from Ketchikan
Sitka - Schneeberger, Gould (5) and Stockel. Juneau-Douglas - Tromble, Fairchild (7) and Schoenberger. W - Tromble. L - Schneeberger. Sv - None. 2B - Sitka: Blankenship, Gauthier, Calhoun; Juneau-Douglas: Thatcher. 3B - None. HR - Sitka: None; Juneau-Douglas: Schoenberger.
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