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The Juneau American Legion Post 25 Midnight Suns completed its three-week road trip on Saturday with a fourth-place finish at the St. Martin's Baseball Tournament in Lacey, Wash.
The Midnight Suns received a No. 8 seed heading into the tournament after going 0-3 in the tourney's opening games June 18-20. In Friday's first round, Juneau faced the Midtown Crushers, who edged Juneau 2-1 just five days prior. The results were the same on Friday as the Crushers handed Juneau a 3-2 loss.
Juneau held a 2-1 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh, but a fluke play by the Crushers tied it at 2-2, sending the game into extra innings.
With one out and a runner on third base in the bottom of the seventh inning, a Crushers batter popped up between third and home in foul territory and Juneau third baseman Zach Kohan and catcher Bud Baun collided while making the play. Kohan caught the ball, but the Crusher runner on third scored. Neither umpire saw the runner tag and after an appeal by Juneau coach Jim Ayers, the umpires called the runner safe and the run counted for the Crushers.
The Crushers won the game in the bottom of the eighth on a checked-swing blooper that scored a runner from second base. Kalen Meek went six innings for Juneau and Lapaka Pavitt pitched the final two innings for Juneau and took a tough loss, giving up just the one final bloop hit.
"The kids knew we had that game won," coach Bruce Scandling said. "Even the Crushers said they were lucky to get out with the win. Pavitt and Meek pitched a great game but lost on a checked-swing blooper."
The Midnight Suns caught a break in their next game when they received a forfeit win against the Legion squad from Bothel, Wash. "They (Bothel) had just gotten trounced on another field just before we were supposed to start, and only a few players showed up for our game," Scandling said. "They forfeited and the officials said we won 7-0."
Juneau kept things going on Saturday with a 3-1 win against the Legion team from Mt. Rainier High School team from Tacoma, Wash. Evan Scandling tossed a five-hitter for the complete game victory and Joe Ayers got the game-winning hit on a double in the fourth inning that scored two runners. Baun and David Coogan also had doubles for Juneau.
With the win, the Midnight Suns stayed alive as one of four teams left in the double-elimination tournament. However, a tough Tacoma Black Sox team knocked Juneau out of the tournament with a 9-0 pounding in five innings later on Saturday.
"They (the Black Sox) came out hitting the ball," Scandling said. "I think our guys were a little flat. The Black Sox were impressive -- a good looking team."
Although the Midnight Suns finished fourth out of eight teams, Juneau proved it can play against some of the best competition in the Pacific Northwest. Teams like the Crushers and the Black Sox are club teams that draw talented players from a large geographical radius and feature several low- to mid-level college players.
"The thing we all agreed on is that they played terrific ball against great competition," Scandling said. "In the last week, we lost four one-run games. We really felt good the way it ended up. We're going to be very competitive up north and nothing will intimidate us."
Juneau fans will get their only chance to see the Midnight Suns at home this year when they play two exhibition games on July 7-8 against Juneau-Douglas High School and American Legion alumni players, coached by Bill McCauley. The games are at 6 p.m. on July 7 and 3 p.m. on July 8 at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park.
Crushers 3, Midnight Suns 2
Friday's game at St. Martin's College
Midnight Suns 100 100 00 -- 2 6 1
Crushers 001 000 11 -- 3 6 0
Meek, Pavitt (7) and Baun; Bishop, Brazier (6) and Medley. WP -- Brazier. LP -- Pavitt. 2B -- Midnight Suns: Scandling, Baun, Kohan; Crushers: None. 3B -- None. HR -- None.
Midnight Suns 3, Mt. Rainier 1
Saturday's game at St. Martin's College
Midnight Suns 000 200 1 -- 3 8 2
Mt. Rainier 000 000 1 -- 1 5 0
Scandling and Baun; Clark and Wade. WP -- Scandling. LP -- Clark. 2B -- Midnight Suns: Ayers, Coogan, Baun; Mt. Rainier: Clark, Karlin. 3B -- None. HR -- None.
Black Sox 9, Midnight Suns 0
Saturday's game at St. Martin's College
Midnight Suns 000 00 -- 0 2 2
Black Sox 342 0x -- 9 7 1
Del Olmo, Nicholas (2) and Baun; Matthews, Kosturus(5) and Conway. WP -- Matthews. LP -- Del Olmo. 2B -- Midnight Suns: None; Black Sox: Stone, Cifier, Parker 2. 3B -- Midnight Suns: None; Black Sox: Kosturus. HR -- None.