Chris Hinkley struck out 11 batters Sunday afternoon to lead the Juneau East Major Division All-Stars to a 5-4 eight-inning victory over Sitka in the first game of the District 2-Southeast Major Division (age 11-12) Little League Baseball Tournament's best-of-three playoff series at Petersburg's Sandy Beach Park.
The two teams play again at 5 p.m. this afternoon, with an if-necessary game set for noon on Tuesday to decide which of the two teams advances to the Alaska State Major Division Little League Baseball Tournament in Anchorage. Five other teams, including the Juneau West All-Stars, were eliminated from the district tournament during round-robin pool-play that ended Saturday.
Juneau East took a 2-0 lead in the second inning as Eric Greiner and Zach Heppner both drew walks, then Nico Saldivar reached on an error at second that scored Greiner and allowed Saldivar to reach third. Shawn Ibesate sacrificed Saldivar in for Juneau East's second run.
Juneau East made it 3-0 in the third inning as Gary Stephens walked, then came around to score on a single by Nathaniel Jacobsen, who was out trying to reach second on the play. Sitka scored twice in the bottom of the third to make it 3-2, with Kory Hansen scored on a passed ball and Erik Buggins scored on an interference call at third.
Both teams scored single runs in the fourth inning, with Juneau taking a 4-2 lead Bobby Cramer drew a bases-loaded walk to score Heppner. Sitka answered in the bottom of the frame as Matthew Loucks walked, took second on a passed ball and scored when Alex Daily's pop fly was misplayed at first.
Sitka tied the game 4-4 in the bottom of the sixth as Orion Hughes-Knowles singled to left, took third on a pair of wild pitches, then scored on a grounder to short by Loucks.