It took Juneau's Gastineau Channel Little League All-Stars a little bit longer to get started than the past two games.
But when Monday's round-robin pool-play game was over Juneau was where it had ended its first two games, with 15 runs scored and a victory as the GCLL All-Stars knocked off Sitka 15-3 in the District 2 Junior Division (Age 13-14) Little League Baseball Tournament at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park.
"It took us a little while to get going, but we still played pretty good," said Juneau shortstop Nathaniel Jacobsen, who scored three runs and hit a two-run single in the second inning. "Fifteen's our lucky number."
"We're hitting really well," said Clae Baker, who hit three doubles (two off the fence in center) and singled once for Juneau.
The victory means Juneau will play Ketchikan in the best-two-of-three championship series that starts at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The championship series continues at 1 p.m. Thursday, with an if-necessary game to take place at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday if the two teams split the first two games.
Juneau and Ketchikan also will play each other at 6:30 p.m. tonight in a round-robin pool-play game that won't change the bracketing of the title series, since both championship series teams are undefeated and the other four teams in the tourney have at least two losses apiece.
The GCLL All-Stars took a 4-0 lead after the first two innings - scoring twice in the first and twice in the second - but Sitka closed the gap to 5-3 after the fourth inning, threatening to make it a close game.
But a fifth-inning rundown that ended with Baker scoring when it appeared Buzz Ward had been picked off first base that got Juneau going again.
Baker led off the inning with a double off the bottom of the fence, then Ward reached on an error that sent Baker to third. Ward wandered off first and drew a throw to start a rundown. As the Sitka fielders tried to tag Ward out, Baker started for home, just as the umpires ruled Ward had been interfered with by a Sitka infielder who bumped Ward when the ball wasn't in his possession.
Juneau scored two runs in the inning and added four more in the sixth and seventh innings, while Juneau pitcher Joe Kohan settled down and faced only one Sitka hitter above the minimum for the last three innings.
"After that rundown we got pumped up," Jacobsen said. "That was right after Clae hit a double off the fence. Right now we're feeling pretty good."
As soon as we scored the sixth run, we were all pumped up by then," Baker said. "We were fired up. We just hit the ball really well."
Kohan hit a double and a triple for Juneau, while Gary Stephens, Shane Rud and Shawn Ibesate hit doubles. Reserve players Drew Hall and Ward also tripled for Juneau.
Sitka was led by Clarke MacKenzie, who hit a two-run double in the fourth inning to make it 5-3. Pinch runner Alex Dailey scored Sitka's first run on a wild pitch in the third inning.
In Monday's other games, Ketchikan remained undefeated in the tournament with a 15-1 victory over Haines while the Petersburg-Wrangell Stikine Pilots picked up their first victory with a 10-2 decision over Prince of Wales.
Jason Ramsey tripled and scored two runs to lead Ketchikan, while Trevor Norton, Chris Ashcraft and Tom Carlin scored twice each. Ryan Simpson doubled and scored for Ketchikan. Carlin and John Thompson combined to throw a one-hitter for Ketchikan, striking out nine hitters in five innings while allowing one unearned run by Haines' Wayne Stickler.
Peter White doubled and scored twice to lead the Stikine Pilots, while Kenneth Wilson and Cody Smith also scored twice. Bobby Pendleton and Anthony Cervera scored the two runs for Prince of Wales.
Charles Bingham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.