FAIRBANKS - Christopher "Critter" Millay was a one-pitch athlete on Thursday morning at Growden Memorial Park. That one pitch helped move Juneau-Douglas one game closer to playing for a state high school baseball title.
The 6-foot, 5-inch senior righthander was loyal to a fastball which registered 10 strikeouts and secured a 10-3 victory over the Dimond Lynx in the opening game of the Alaska School Activities Association State Baseball Championships three-day tournament.
The Crimson Bears (19-6) advanced to play Colony in the semifinal round at 4:30 p.m. today while the Lynx (7-4) will play in a consolation game at 11:30 a.m.
"I was just planning to throw a lot of fastballs, throw a lot of strikes, get the rest of the team into it and keep my pitch count down,'' said Millay, who gave up seven hits, had one balk and no walks in a complete-game effort.
Millay's work on the mound, which included retiring the sides in order in the first, sixth and seventh innings, served as motivation for his teammates at the plate. The Crimson Bears generated 11 hits off Lynx starter Colton Lauwers.
The Dimond junior righthander had three strikeouts, allowed a walk and retired the side in the seventh while also going the distance.
After the Lynx tied the game at one in the second inning, the Crimson Bears responded with eight runs over the next three innings.
"Critter's a good pitcher and he throws a lot of strikes,'' said senior shortstop Joe Kohan. "So whenever we have a guy like that on the mound, we're definitely confident. We've just got to hit the ball and get him some runs, and the game's pretty much over after that.''
Kohan, the Alaska Gatorade Player of the Year and a University of Nevada recruit, finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs and a run. He was among four Crimson Bears with two hits apiece, joining center fielder Corey Mahar (2-for-4, two runs), left fielder Alex DeRocher (2-for-3, two RBI) and right fielder Dylan Baker (2-for-2, two runs and an RBI).
"We had a lot of good approaches, we got some deep counts and we got some good pitches to hit," Kohan said.
Erik Cooper was the only Lynx with more than one hit against Millay. The sophomore third baseman had two, including an RBI single in the fifth.
"We didn't see very many fast pitchers this year and he was probably one of the hardest throwers we've seen,'' Cooper said. "He mixed in a good curve ball once in a while, but we couldn't hang with his speed."
Dimond briefly hung with Juneau-Douglas on the scoreboard.
Kohan accounted for the game's first run by driving in Mahar with a sacrifice fly after the junior led off the bottom of the first with a single up the middle of the field.
Justin Jones tied the score for Dimond in the top of the second after he reached base on a fielder's choice and advanced to second on Millay's balk. As Jones was stealing third base, Crimson Bears catcher Aaron Cohen's pickoff attempt hit Jones on the leg after he stepped on the bag. The ball bounced toward the Dimond dugout, allowing Jones to dash home.
Juneau-Douglas then sent 16 batters to face Lauwers in the third and fourth innings and the Crimson Bears capitalized.
The Southeast Conference champions manufactured six hits and four runs in the third, as Shawn Ibesate, Richard "Buzz" Ward and DeRocher tapped run-scoring singles and Shane Rud had an RBI groundout.
The Crimson Bears added three more in the fourth with Baker scoring on a bases-loaded wild pitch and Kohan cracking a two-run single to right field.
"We got a lot of long counts, and definitely, the guy (Lauwers) was getting tired,'' said Kohan. "Coming through the second round (at-bats), we had seen him once and we knew what we had. We just took our plate approach and we were thinking (opposite field), and we just hit the ball pretty hard every time."
Cooper accounted for both of Dimond's runs in the fifth, driving in Tynan DeMoss after the right fielder hit a two-out single and scoring on Lauwers' hit to left field. Juneau-Douglas got its final run in the bottom of the inning with Baker's solo home run over the left-field fence.
Juneau-Douglas captured state titles in 2002 and 2003 but was runner-up to Southeast rival Sitka last season.
"We do have to take one game at a time, we can't think about the championship game," said Kohan, "but we expect ourselves to be in that game. We expect ourselves to play a good game tomorrow and get there.
"We'll settle for nothing less than that; we should be there.''
Contact News-Miner staff writer Danny Martin at (907) 459-7586.
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