The Juneau American Legion Midnight Suns baseball team got a payback on Wednesday by defeating the Wasilla Road Warriors 4-3 in 12 innings at McManus Field in Wasilla.
Wasilla handed Juneau a heartbreaking 3-2 loss in the first round of the high school state baseball tournament on June 1 in Palmer. Although there was only four players on the Road Warriors' roster that participated in the state tournament game, it was still sweet revenge for at least one player -- Will Nicholas.
"It was a payback for Will," coach Jim Ayers said. "It was the best game I have ever seen him pitch. I usually don't have a guy throw more than 100 pitches, but Will's in great shape. They were razzing him, but he didn't go for it. Colony, Wasilla, Palmer and Houston all combine on a Legion team, so it wasn't quite the same team we faced at state."
Nicholas struck out 11 batters over nine innings, giving up just three hits and walking three. However, he left the game in the 10th inning with the score tied at 2-2 and got a no decision. He was relieved by Lopaka Pavitt, who got the win for the Midnight Suns with two innings of relief work. Kalen Meek saved the game in the 12th inning.
Juneau scored the winning run in the 12th inning on a play that coach Ayers refers to as a 'Bear Pickle.' With Nick Wolf at third base and Zach Kohan on first, Kohan took a longer than normal lead and baited the pitcher to throw to first, where Kohan intentionally gets into a run-down.
While this is happening Wolf casually walked down the third base, trying not to draw attention to himself. And when the a throw is made to second base in the run-down on Kohan, Wolf broke for home and scored.
"It's a play we've worked on Kohan did a great job of acting," Ayers said.
It was the second big play of the game for Kohan who also bunted in Wolf from third base in the tenth inning.
"Looking at the scorebook, Kohan was an 0-for and he had an error that cost us earlier in the game," Ayers said. "On the other hand, he squeezed in a run and tan the pick-off for us that scored the winning run."
Wolf led Juneau's offensive attack, going 5-for-6 and scored three runs. Bryson Buck had an RBI double in the third inning that scored Evan Scandling.
The game is the first in a three-week Alaska road trip. The Midnight Suns will play several Legion teams from the Anchorage and Kenai areas in preparation for the state tournament, which begins Aug. 4.
The Midnight Suns play Wasilla again today at 6:30 p.m., followed by an off-day. Then they play three games over the weekend against Dimond, West and East Anchorage at Kosinski Fields in Anchorage.
Midnight Suns 4, Wasilla 3
Wednesday's game from Wasilla
Midnight Suns 101 000 000 101-- 4 9 4
Wasilla 000 100 010 100 -- 3 4 3
Nicholas, Pavitt (10), Meek (12) and Baun. Caldera, Paryam (10) and Peltz. WP -- Pavitt. LP -- Paryam. SV -- Meek. 2B -- Midnight Suns: Buck, Nicholas. Wasilla: Schmetz (2). 3B -- None. HR -- None.