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With the way both teams kept scoring every inning, it was a good thing Ketchikan won the pre-game coin flip and won the home team's last at-bats against North Pole in Monday's losers' bracket game in the Alaska State Junior Division (Age 13-14) Little League Baseball Tournament at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park.
Ryan Simpson singled home John Thompson from third base with the game-winning run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, giving Ketchikan a 9-8 victory in an elimination game.
"We just needed to get a run at the end," said Thompson, who hit a one-out double down the left field line and took third on a wild pitch before Simpson's game-winning RBI to right. "It was a fastball, low. It was perfect, I guess."
Ketchikan's victory eliminated North Pole from the double-elimination tournament and sent Ketchikan into today's 6 p.m. championship game against Knik. An if-necessary game takes place on Wednesday. On Saturday, Knik opened the tournament with a 3-2 victory over Ketchikan.
Ketchikan, which was playing without clean-up hitter Kenny Pearson because of an ejection in Saturday's game, opened the scoring with two runs in the bottom of the first inning. Gunnar Farstad reached on an error and scored on an RBI single by Trevor Norton, and Norton scored on an RBI single by Eric Bezenek.
North Pole tied it in the top of the third inning, as Chris Koenen singled and scored on a single by Nicholas Tillman, who scored on an error. Ketchikan regained the lead in the bottom of the third as Norton walked and scored on a single by Jason Ramsey to make it 3-2.
North Pole tied it again in the top of the fourth as Cody Crutcher walked and scored when Bryan Hunt reached on an error. Ketchikan didn't answer in the bottom of the fourth, the only half inning over the last five a team didn't score.
North Pole took a 5-3 lead in the top of the fifth when Derek Wilson doubled, Tillman walked and Chase Bridgeman singled Wilson home. Then, after a fielder's choice erased Tillman and a couple of other plays loaded the bases, Bridgeman scored when Michael Schwab drew an RBI walk.
Ketchikan tied it in the bottom of the inning as Farstad singled, pinch runner Graham Seibel advanced on a sacrifice, then Norton brought him home with a bunt single. After a fielder's choice erased Norton, Ramsey reached on a single and came around to score on an error.
In the top of the sixth inning, North Pole took a 7-5 lead as Koenen and Wilson both walked, then Koenen scored on an RBI single by Tillman and Wilson stole home.
Ketchikan took an 8-7 lead in a wild bottom of the sixth. Chris Ashcraft and Simpson both reached on errors, then Ashcraft scored when Chris Loughman reached on a strikeout-passed ball by Koenen, who was thrown out arguing about Ashcraft's run. After Norton walked, Simpson and Loughman both scored on wild pitches.
North Pole tied it 8-8 in the top of the seventh as Bressler doubled off the first base bag, took third on a wild pitch and scored when Hunt reached on an error in right. That set up Thompson's and Simpson's heroics in the bottom of the inning.
"We didn't want to go home," Loughman said. "We've got battle scars."
"We wanted it the most," Ramsey added.