The Juneau Juniors are at it again.
A year after the Gastineau Channel Little League Juniors (aged 13-14) nearly made it to the Little League World Series, the current juniors are making a run of their own.
The Juneau Juniors took the first step Monday evening by winning the Alaska State championship with a 17-7 victory over Abbott-O-Rabbit at Brotherhood Fields in Anchorage.
Jon Andrew Malacas' two-run homer capped a five-run second inning that gave Juneau a 7-6 lead after being down 6-2. A-O-R, an Anchorage-based Little League team, scored five runs in the top of the second inning and sent the Juneau Juniors back to the dugout dejected.
``We had a couple of errors in that inning, so when they came off the field they were hanging their heads, and normally they're ready to do a cheer'' said manager Larry Neal. ``But we told 'em this is a seven inning game. We said don't quit now, and they didn't.''
After Malacas' blast cleared the fences, Juneau seized the game from a stunned A-O-R team. Jordan Davis sent another two-run homer over the fences in the third and Juneau cruised from there.
``That two-run shot was quite discouraging for them,'' Neal said. ``For us to answer like that . . . you know, sometimes you think you've got a game won.''
Matt Greely and Chance Millay combined on the mound to give Juneau the win. Millay came on in the second inning and gave up one run and struck out four.
C.J. Keys finished the game 3-for-3 with a walk and scored three runs. Erik Scholl also hit 3-for-3 and added two scores. Scholl hit a perfect 7-for-7 over the two-game tournament. Davis finished the game 3-for-4 with a home run and three runs scored.
Juneau moves on to the Division I Tournament July 29-Aug. 3 in Boise, Idaho. Juneau received a first-round bye, and plays the Idaho-Montana winner on Sunday at 10 a.m. The tournament includes state champions from Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii.
Last year's Juneau Juniors won the Divisional Tournament, and advanced to the championship game of the Western Regional Tournament - one step from the Little League World Series. Two players from that squad remain on the this year's team - Sergio Magallanes and Brian Vinson.
Neal said he and the players are thinking about last year's team, but he doesn't want to jinx this year's squad.
``I don't like to talk about it,'' Neal said. ``Sure we'd like to follow in their footsteps, but I don't want us to think we failed if we don't make it that far.''
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