The wet, muddy Crimson Bears are one more victorious trip into the slop trough away from earning a berth to the State Baseball Championships.
The Juneau-Douglas High School baseball team, the top seed in Region V's blue division, easily dispatched the gold division's top dogs from Wrangell 8-1 in the opening round of the Region V Championships at Ketchikan's Walker Field Thursday evening.
JDHS advances to face hosting Ketchikan in today's 6 p.m. semifinal for a trip to the tournament's championship game. With a win, Juneau-Douglas will clinch one of the region's two berths to the state tournament, regardless of the title game outcome.
"We just need to come back out and go to work tomorrow," Kissner said after the game. "We need to do what we came here to do. We came to win."
The Crimson Bears slapped out all eight of their runs in Thursday's opening three innings and were aided by a complete-game one-hitter from pitcher James San Miguel, before the game was called after the top of the fifth inning due to wet and wild conditions. Driving rain and slick conditions forced the umpires to call the game - the final contest of the tourney's opening day - as soon as JDHS could be awarded the win in an "official game".
Senior Dakotah Smith helped the Bears jump ahead in the first inning, with a two-out two-RBI double that scored classmate Corey Mahar and junior Dylan Baker. The hit was Smith's only of the night in a 1-for-3 effort, but was credited by JDHS head coach Jaime Kissner for putting the pressure squarely on Wrangell.
"That hit was huge for us," Kissner said.
Mahar matched Smith's slapper with a two-RBI double of his own during a four-run second inning.
"Those (doubles) were big punches for us right there," Kissner said.
San Miguel tossed all five innings for Juneau-Douglas, allowing a single run on just one hit and one walk.
"It took James the first two innings to get loosened up with the cold," Kissner said. "I thought he ended up throwing very well tonight."
Junior shortstop Vinnie Isturis added a 2-for-2 effort in support for the Bears, including an RBI and two runs scored.
The Region V First-Team All-Conference rosters were also announced Thursday, with five JDHS players getting the nod. Mahar, Isturis, Baker, junior catcher Aaron Cohen and sophomore pitcher Miles Bedford took the honors.
"It doesn't surprise me at all," Kissner said of his awarded players. "Those five guys have been playing extremely well and leading the conference at their respective positions all season. They all did really well."