Some of Juneau's Gastineau Channel Little League All-Stars said they had the jitters as they opened play Saturday in the District 2 Junior Division (Age 13-14) Baseball Tournament at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park.
If the All-Stars had tournament-opener jitters, they didn't show it as three GCLL pitchers combined to throw a no-hitter against the Stikine Pilots, an all-star team from the towns of Petersburg and Wrangell.
Joe Kohan threw three innings of perfect ball, then relievers Shane Rud and Chris Hinkley kept the no-hitter going as Juneau won 15-0 in a game called after five innings because of the 10-run mercy rule. The three pitchers allowed just two base-runners on a pair of full-count walks in the fourth inning.
"We're just getting warmed up," Kohan said. "It's a mental game. We got 'em all out, but we have to stay focussed."
"We've still got to play more games," added Nathaniel Jacobsen, who scored twice and drove in three runs (with two more runs scoring on an error after one of his hits) for Juneau. "It's all about the mental game."
Juneau lost the coin flip and was the visitor for this game, but that may have been an advantage as the GCLL All-Stars scored six runs in the top of the first inning. The rally was keyed by a pair of doubles from Hinkley and Gary Stephens, while Shawn Ibesate hit a two-run single.
The big inning seemed to settle down the Juneau players, while at the same time putting the smaller Stikine players back on their heels.
"We could sit back and relax," Hinkley said. "We worked as a team and got the win. But we can't look past this game, because Ketchikan and Sitka look tough and we have to be ready for them."
"This was our home town, so we had our crowd behind us," Ibesate added.
Juneau added two more runs in the second inning as Stephens walked, stole second and scored from second on a sacrifice bunt. Hinkley also singled in Kohan, who'd reached on an error.
In the third inning, Juneau scored four more runs as Jacobsen hit a bases-loaded single, then came around to score when the ball got past the right fielder and rolled to the fence to make the score 12-0.
Juneau added three extra runs in the fifth inning as Ibesate hit a two-run double, then scored after a pair of wild pitches.
In the meantime, the Juneau pitchers dominated Stikine. In his three innings, Kohan struck out five of the nine hitters he faced and only had one ball hit past the infield. Rud relieved in the fourth inning and gave up two full-count walks to Kenneth Wilson and Pete White before striking out the side. In the bottom of the fifth, Hinkley got a strikeout, fielded a pop-up and got a grounder to third to end the game.
In Saturday's other round-robin games, Ketchikan beat Sitka 9-7 and Haines edged Prince of Wales 8-7 as both winning teams held off seventh-inning rallies for their victories.
In Ketchikan's victory, John Thompson, Adam Doyon and Eugen Doyon scored runs in the sixth inning that proved to be the winning margin. Sitka's Erik Buggins and Matt Loucks both scored in the top of the seventh inning, but Ketchikan ended the rally with men on first and second.
Kenny Pearson hit a three-run homer in the third inning and scored two runs for Ketchikan, while Ryan Simpson scored twice and Chris Loughman hit a pair of doubles and scored once.
Loucks scored two runs to lead Sitka.
In Haines' victory, Ben Feldman threw a complete game on the mound while scoring twice and driving in a run. Chandler Kemp scored two runs, while Tom Ward doubled and scored the eventual game-winning run in the seventh inning. Bubba Hinckle drove in a run in the first inning and reached on an error in the sixth that scored two runs for Haines.
Prince of Wales scored twice in the seventh inning, but it wasn't enough to pull out the victory. Anthony Cervera scored twice for POW, while James Bennett scored twice, doubled and had an RBI and Zak Thibodeau had an RBI and a run scored.
The tournament continues today as Haines plays Sitka at 11 a.m., Ketchikan takes on Stikine at 2:30 p.m. and Juneau plays Prince of Wales at 6:30 p.m. The round-robin portion of the tournament continues through Tuesday.
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