The atmosphere may have been a little different, but victory tasted just as sweet for the Sitka High School baseball team last Saturday.
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After waiting more than five decades for the school's first championship, the Wolves repeated as baseball state champs with an 8-3 win over Chugiak on Saturday in Fairbanks.
"It was a little different," Sitka coach Ed Conway said. "We were over the first time being there deal. It was still a good, exciting atmosphere. For the kids, it wasn't new to them so it was a little more serious. It was still a lot of fun, though."
E.B. Crow fanned 12 batters over seven innings in the win as he out-dueled Mustangs ace lefty, Conor Spink. Crow also tripled and homered in the victory.
"Crow came through big way and went against their stud from Anchorage," Conway said. "A lot of this is because of Juneau. Juneau always throws a lefty against us. We see one every weekend and most teams don't see that. Most teams are lucky to see a lefty once a year."
Crow, Matt Loucks and Tom Stonebreaker were named to the All-Tournament team after Saturday's win. Sitka opened the tournament with a 17-6 victory over Lathrop.
In preparation for the defense of last year's title, the Wolves played an arduous schedule against top-flight competition.
Sitka played Juneau-Douglas eight times, Ketchikan seven and state-semifinalists Kodiak three times during the season.
Though the Wolves dropped six contests during the course of the season, the extra work stoked the team's competitive fire.
"Our toughest team all year was Juneau, no doubt," Conway said. "We played Kodiak three times and beat them twice pretty handily."
While a tough regular season schedule helped Sitka prepare for this year, the team has been testing its limits since Little League.
Conway said his team has been together since they were 12 years old.
Through dedication and hard work, Sitka slowly began to develop a championship program.
"This team right here that I have is the exact same team I had when they were 12 years old in All Stars," Conway said. "We weren't all that successful back then. Ketchikan was the team to beat.
"We don't get outworked, that's an important thing. We have an indoor (batting) cage and they're in there almost every night."
Last June proved to be a magical time in Sitka.
The Wolves baseball team won the school's first state title since 1954 while Sitka's softball team returned with the small-school championship.
This month should be just as sweet for the Wolves.
"People just can't believe it. They're stunned," Conway said of the town's reaction. "No one can believe we did it again. It's nice and really humbling."
Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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