Pitcher Joe Kohan was one out away from throwing a complete-game shutout when things turned for the worse for Juneau's Gastineau Channel Little League All-Stars.
Ketchikan rallied to tie the score in the top of the seventh inning, sending the game to extra innings where Ketchikan won 5-4 in 10 innings to open the best-two-out-of-three-game championship series Wednesday in the District 2 Junior Division (Age 13-14) Little League Baseball Tournament at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park.
The two teams will play again at 2 p.m. today, with an if-necessary game at 6 p.m. The District 2 champion will advance to the state tournament, which opens at 3 p.m. on Saturday at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park.
"I don't know, I was just missing my spots and they started hitting the ball," said Kohan, who has pitched 17 innings since the tournament started on Saturday. "We got ahead of ourselves."
"We just gave it away," said Ryan Beason, who relieved Chris Hinkley in the 10th inning with two runners on base and one out.
Instead, it was Ketchikan pitcher Trevor Norton who wound up with the complete-game victory. Norton threw 170 pitches, scattering 12 hits and striking out 13 Juneau batters in his 10 innings of work. While Kohan appeared to tire in the seventh, Norton seemed to get stronger as the game went along. Kohan allowed eight hits (four in the seventh inning) and struck out 10 batters.
"(My arm's feeling) pretty good, I just started picking it up," Norton said. "Everyone on the team was picking me up. At the end my curveball was working a lot better."
Juneau jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, as Gary Stephens doubled and one out later Kohan singled him home. Kohan drove in another run in the third inning as Shane Rud walked, stole second and went to third on an error, then scored two outs later on a Kohan single.
In the fourth inning, Clae Baker singled and took second on a single by Buzz Ward, with Baker scoring when the ball got past the Ketchikan center fielder and rolled to the fence. Juneau made it 4-0 in the sixth inning as Beason legged out an infield single, went to second on a single by Rud, then came around to score on a pair of passed balls.
Ketchikan, which lost 11-3 to Juneau on Tuesday in round-robin pool-play, appeared to be on its way to a second straight loss. But there were signs Juneau was weakening.
Ketchikan loaded the bases in the top of the sixth inning, but Kohan was able to escape the jam with no runs being scored. Norton singled and stole second, Kenny Pearson walked and Chris Loughman hit into a fielder's choice that erased Norton at third base. Eric Bezenek walked to load the bases, but Kohan struck out Chris Ashcraft and got John Thompson to line out to left field, hitting the ball right to Juneau reserve Zak Kirkpatrick.
Juneau scored its fourth run in the bottom of the sixth inning, and appeared to have things well in hand as pinch hitter Jason Ramsey struck out and pinch hitter Adam Doyon grounded out to short for the second out.
But Ketchikan strung together a couple of hits, and picked up the momentum.
"We didn't really want to lose this game," Loughman said.
"We were thinking we didn't really want to play tomorrow if we lost this game," said Bezenek, who said Kohan did a good job keeping the Ketchikan hitters off balance. "Joe pitched a great game. We were having to battle him every pitch."
Ryan Simpson and Norton singled, then Pearson walked to load the bases. Loughman followed with a single to right to make it 4-2 Juneau, with Loughman taking second on the throw home.
The next hitter, Bezenek, singled to left. As the throw from left came home wide of the mark, Pearson clipped Juneau catcher Clae Baker, allowing Pearson to score and the throw to roll to the backstop. Baker was on his knees holding his right shoulder, his glove on the ground, while Kohan chased the loose ball and Loughman rounded third and headed for home. Baker recovered as Kohan reached the ball, but with no glove Kohan had to soft-toss the ball to him and Loughman was able to slide under the tag and tie the score.
"I didn't block him as well as I should have," Baker said.
"Right when they scored the fourth run, they were up on the fence (in the dugout)," Stephens said. "That's the first time I'd seen them up on the fence this tournament."
Juneau put runners on first and third in the bottom of the seventh, but Norton got out of the jam with a strikeout and a grounder to second. He threw a 1-2-3 eighth inning and survived a two-out double by Hinkley in the ninth inning.
Ketchikan scored the winning run in the top of the 10th as Chris Ashcraft reached on an error by Hinkley and stole second. Thompson walked, but Ashcraft was caught stealing third for the first out. Ramsey walked to put runners on first and second, then Juneau changed pitchers. Graham Seibel greeted Beason with a single to left center field that brought Thompson home with the winning run.
Ward popped out to short to open the bottom of the 10th inning for Juneau. Shawn Ibesate followed with a single to right, but he was erased at second when Beason hit into a fielder's choice. Rud then hit a fly ball to right that Ketchikan's Thompson was able to run down near the foul line to end the game.
"They can celebrate all they want to tonight, we'll get them tomorrow," Baker said.
In Wednesday's early games, Sitka claimed third place with a 13-8 victory over Haines and the Petersburg-Wrangell Stikine Pilots edged Prince of Wales 6-4 in the fifth-sixth place game.
Sitka was led by Erik Buggins with three runs, while Bryn Calhoun and Matthew Loucks scored twice. All nine spots in Sitka's batting order accounted for at least one run. Steven McLaughlin and David McDermaid scored two runs each for Haines.
Cody Smith scored three runs and hit two doubles to lead the Stikine Pilots, while Kenneth Wilson scored twice and threw a four-hitter. Kris Torrence had two RBIs and a double for Stikine, while Chancy Nelson scored one run and Peter White hit a triple. Josh Christy, Ryan Cole, Zach Thibodeau and Chris Stockton scored the runs for Prince of Wales.
Charles Bingham can be reached at email@example.com.
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