For the first six innings, it looked like Petersburg would cruise to a dominating win over Juneau East in Little League action on Saturday at Miller Field. But in an exiting turnaround, Juneau prevailed to win 9-8.
Petersburg played strong defense, allowing only three hits during the first five innings, off strong pitching from Cody Bell and strong defense from the Petersburg outfield. At the same time, the Petersburg bats were cracking scoring, with 15 hits and eight runs in the first six innings.
Trailing 8-1 at the top of the sixth, Juneau East coach Andy Macaulay brought in pitcher Dustin Rumfelt to finish the game. Juneau was able to close off the sixth inning by holding Petersburg scoreless.
In the sixth inning, Juneau East was determined to start a late game rally. With the Juneau West players sitting in the crowds chanting, "Rally, rally, rally," Juneau East proceeded to mount an epic comeback.
Kenny Fox, Tal Norvell and Jackson Pavitt all got hits leading to four runs scored for Juneau. With Juneau trailing 5-8, Dustin Rumfelt came to bat and hit a deep shot down right field that went all the way to the fence. With Rumfelt's triple, two more Juneau runners scored and it was 7-8 in favor of Petersburg.
Travis Duvernay was next up to bat and drove in the tying run, bringing the score to 8-8.
Petersburg pitcher V. Kowalaski was brought in to stop the rally and was able to strike out two batters to force the game into extra innings.
With the rally nearly complete, the momentum had shifted in Juneau's favor. During the seventh inning, Juneau East's Rumfelt continued his solid performance by allowing no hits in the inning and also making an athletic throw-out to first base off a tipped ball.
In the bottom of the seventh,Petersburg walked lead-off batter Jake Macaulay, who was able to steal second base and third base after missed pitches by the Petersburg catcher. Pavitt then stepped up to the plate and hit a deep shot to left field to win the game for Juneau.
Coach Macaulay was pleased with his players' performance.
"Our kids showed a lot of heart today," Macaulay said. "I talked to them when things weren't going their way in the earlier part of the game, (and told them) they need to keep their heads up and keep battling. We played a really tough Petersburg team today."
It was a tough loss for Petersburg, sending them to 1-3 for the tournament and reducing their chances of finishing in the top four. The win solidified both Juneau teams with a chance to advance to the championship round of the tournament. Juneau East players have a tough road ahead of them. They are scheduled to play Sitka (3-1) at 6 p.m. Sunday and Juneau West at 6 p.m. Monday at Terry Miller Field behind Glacier Valley Elementary School.
Meanwhile, Juneau West has emerged as the team to beat with a 4-0 record and as the only unbeaten team in the tournament. With two games left before the championship round, the top four teams are Juneau West (4-0), Juneau East, (3-1), Sitka (3-1) and Ketchikan (3-2).
The winner of the tournament here in Juneau will represent Southeast Alaska and play for a state championship in Anchorage for 11- to 12-year-olds. The first game of the Anchorage tournament is scheduled for July 25.
Erik Stimpfle is a writer living in Juneau. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, July 18
Petersburg 10, Haines 7
It was a back-and-forth game.
Both Petersburg and Haines traded scores every other inning, until Petersburg scored several runs in the fourth inning, putting Haines in the back seat for a while.
Then Haines was able to make it back by four runs to make it close.
Haines starting pitcher John Gross performed well, pitching three innings. Jordan Badger followed him.
Ketchikan 16, Juneau East 11
Amid torrential downpour, Ketchikan was down 8-1 in the second inning.
But Ketchikan battled back in the fifth inning, scoring 10 runs after being down 11-6.
Kechikan's Brooke Simmons, with three hits, pitched a tremendous game after relieving Kable Lervick, who went one-plus inning. Both pitchers had three hits.
Lervick gave up three runs on five hits and five strikeouts. Thomas Hamilton had two hits.
In the fifth inning, Juneau East was ahead 11-10, but Riley Gass had a bases-loaded single that played as a tying and go-ahead run.
"It was an epic Southeast baseball game," said Ketchikan coach Bill Gass. "It was horrendous conditions. Both teams battled through. They'll remember this game for a long time. Because it was driving rain, standing water on the field. There were a lot of errors on both sides, which is to be expected. But both teams kept working. I was really proud of the way the kids didn't give up and kept coming back. That was a big win for us."
Saturday, July 19
Ketchikan 13, POW 1
Ketchikan soundly beat Prince of Wales, and the runs poured in after a POW pitcher was injured.
"It was a pitcher's battle through three innings," said Ketchikan coach Bill Gass. "I had Thomas Hamilton on the mounds and he threw really well."
In the third inning, Conner Pope hit a hard line drive, which hit the Prince of Wales Island's pitcher in the shoulder, and he had to leave the game.
Ketchikan had big fourth inning, capped off by a grand slam by Omar Mendoza, ending the game with the four-inning mercy rule.
Hamilton hit a home run in third inning.
"That was actually a really tight ball game until that pitcher got knocked out and our bats woke up," Gass said.
Sitka 18, Haines 0
Haines player Ryan Jarvo hit a home run, and teammate Erikson Fish knocked out two in a big win over Sitka.
Brian Way hit a triple and a single, and AJ Inman had a double.
Spencer Coombs and Inman pitched to shut out Haines, and Coombs had a ground-rule double.
"We've got to give a lot of credit to Haines for staying in the game, staying positive," said Sitka coach Jim Way. "They're really a good bunch of kids."