The Ketchikan All-Stars desperately needed a victory when they took the field against the undefeated Gastineau Channel Little League Juneau West All-Stars on Thursday night at Miller Fields.
Ketchikan couldn't afford a loss, which would eliminate it from contention for a spot in Saturday's noon championship game of the District II Minor (age 9-10) Little League Tournament. A Ketchikan loss would clinch a spot in the championship game for Juneau West and for idle Juneau East.
By claiming a 9-6 victory on Thursday, Ketchikan stayed in the running for the title.
Kyle Race threw a complete game for Ketchikan, while Simon Brooks scored three runs and the trio of Colby Slanaker, Brian Pearce and Paul Forrester each had two RBIs.
"I pitched five innings on Tuesday (an 8-1 loss to Juneau East where the score was 3-1 when he left the game) and I went six today," said Race, who had six strikeouts and two walks while allowing just two earned runs. "I was fine. It was my day. Every time I got two strikes on somebody, I'd go like that (pulls the bill of his cap) and I'd strike them out every time."
"We did a lot better today," Pearce said about Ketchikan's hitting. "I had a double to the fence and a single."
Ketchikan, which is idle today, completed the round-robin portion of the tournament with a 3-1 record. Juneau West fell to 2-1, the same record as Juneau East.
Wrangell, which beat Petersburg 14-2 in Thursday's other game, is 1-2 and Petersburg is 0-3. Wrangell clinched a spot in Saturday's 9 a.m. third-fourth place game, while Petersburg will not play on Saturday.
If Juneau East beats Petersburg in today's 3 p.m. game and Juneau West tops Wrangell at 6 p.m., there will be a three-way tie for the top spot. The three tied teams will have 1-1 records against each other, which will throw things into a runs-allowed tie-breaker to determine the two teams that will play in the title game. The odd team out will play Wrangell for third place.
"We really need a win now, so we have a better shot for the championship," Juneau West shortstop Nathan Fosket said. "I think we'll beat Wrangell."
"They have a chance against Wrangell," Race said.
Ketchikan opened the game by scoring three runs in the first inning as Juneau West pitcher Vincent Isturis struggled with his control. Isturis walked six batters in the first inning, but settled down and didn't walk another batter the rest of the game. Isturis had five strikeouts in his complete-game effort.
Brooks (whose lead-off single was the only hit of the inning), Tore Singstad and David Klein scored in the first inning for Ketchikan, with Slanaker, Pearce and Tyler Elliott driving in the runs with bases-loaded walks.
Juneau West tied the score in the top of the second inning as Ben Hotch walked, took second on a passed ball, went to third on a sacrifice by Peter Jorgensen and scored on a wild pitch. Devan Neal walked and Justin Brooks reached on a two-base error in center, then Neal and Brooks each scored on passed balls to make it 3-3.
Ketchikan answered with four runs in the bottom of the second inning. Simon Brooks led off the frame with a single, went to second on a one-out single by Klein and took third when Klein was erased at second on a fielder's choice off the bat of Cody Forrester. Slanaker singled Brooks home, Pearce doubled in Cody Forrester and Paul Forrester's two-run single brought home Slanaker and Pearce.
Juneau West made it 7-4 in the top of the third inning as Hotch hit a two-out single, stole second and scored when Jorgensen reached on an error at second. But Ketchikan responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning as Jasper Reese and Brooks singled and advanced to second and third on a sacrifice by Singstad. One out later, Reese and Brooks scored when Cody Forrester reached on an error at third.
Down 9-4 after three innings, Juneau West struck for single runs in the last two innings but couldn't sustain the rallies.
Nick Mow singled to lead off the fifth and stole second, only to be caught stealing at third. An out later, Aaron Cohen tripled and scored on an RBI single by Hotch, who was thrown out trying to extend the hit to a double.
In the sixth, Kyle Barry reached on a pitcher's error, took second on a wild pitch, went to third when Jake Monagle reached on a one-out error at second and scored on an error at first. Monagle went to third on a passed ball, but Race settled down to strike out Fosket and then got Logan Miller to fly out to short to end the game.
Wrangell 14, Petersburg 2
Eric Crayne scored three runs, hit a triple and a two-run single as Wrangell claimed its first victory of the tournament by beating Petersburg.
Sean McCoy drove in two runs with a triple and scored twice for Wrangell, while Josh Hojem, Joel Cramer and Trey Torvend scored two runs apiece. Cramer also hit a double.
Petersburg scored its first run in the first inning when Chris Haerling reached on a fielder's choice and advanced around the bases on three passed balls. Petersburg's other run came in the third inning when Jose Eudave singled, took second on a passed ball, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Jase Payne. Those were Petersburg's only two hits of the game.
Charles Bingham can be reached at email@example.com.
KETCHIKAN 9, JUNEAU WEST 6
Thursday's game from Miller Fields
JUNEAU WEST 031 011 - 6 6 1
KETCHIKAN 342 00x - 9 8 5
Juneau West - Isturis and Cohen. Ketchikan - Race and Pearce. WP - Race. LP - Isturis. Sv - None. 2B - Juneau West 0, Ketchikan 1 (Pearce 1). 3B - Juneau West 1 (Cohen 1), Ketchikan 0. HR - None.
WRANGELL 14, PETERSBURG 2
Thursday's game from Miller Fields
WRANGELL 235 4 - 14 8 1
PETERSBURG 101 0 - 2 2 3
Wrangell - Wilson, Hojem (2) and Hojem, Wilson (2). Petersburg - Haerling and Sturgeon. WP - Hojem. LP - Haerling. Sv - None. 2B - Wrangell 1 (Cramer 1), Petersburg 0. 3B - Wrangell 2 (Crayne 1, McCoy 1), Petersburg 0. HR - None.