Juneau beat Sitka 5-4 Thursday at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park in the first game of their best-of-three championship series in the District 2 Junior Baseball Little League Tournament.
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Sitka led 2-0 for the first five innings, but things started unraveling when Vinnie Isturis' single got by the right fielder in the bottom of the sixth. Isturis later scored off an errant pickoff throw.
Juneau tied it later in the sixth on its second suicide squeeze bunt attempt of the inning. With the bases loaded, Tory Franzen bunted home Keath Flint with the tying run.
With Franzen on first, Eric Sele on second and Justin Brooks on third, Juneau's Nick Smith put Juneau up for good with a three-run triple to the left-center gap.
The clutch hit gave Juneau a 5-2 lead going into the seventh.
"Vinnie led us off with a hit, and it just got contagious from there," Juneau coach Rod Baker said. "We were just trying to be really, really aggressive and we got caught being too aggressive, but that's how we're going to score runs."
Juneau attempted three suicide squeeze plays in the game, converting one.
Sitka mounted a comeback in the top of the seventh, as Derrick Esquerra hit a two-run double. Esquerra finished the game with four RBIs.
Juneau's Dylan Baker came into relieve Franzen and got the save - leaving the tying run at second base.
Franzen relieved starter Jamie Daniel in the second inning and held Sitka scoreless until the seventh.
"Tory came in and did a great job," Rod Baker said. "That really kept everyone together."
Sitka went up 2-0 early, as Esquerra connected on a long two-run homer.
"Derrick just had a great game for us, both catching and hitting," Sitka coach Keith Perkins said. "He was probably our top player today."
On the mound, David Reynolds mixed in some knuckleballs and kept Juneau at bay for much of the game before exiting in the sixth. He allowed only three runs in the loss.
Juneau's Jamie Daniel, Isturis, Aaron Cohen and Smith accounted for all four of the team's hits.
Juneau can advance to state with a win at 6 p.m. today. A win by Sitka would force a decisive Game 3 on Saturday.
The Juneau Empire sports department can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org