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A fouled-up foul call sparked an Oregon rally on Thursday, sending the Juneau Majors (age 11-12) softball team to a 12-4 loss at the Northwest Division tourney in Eagle Point-White City, Ore.
The Alaska state champs are still alive in the double-elimination tourney, and will face Washington tonight. Juneau beat Washington, 4-3, in a dramatic win on Tuesday.
With Juneau leading 3-2 in the top of the fifth inning, Oregon got runners on first and second. Then an Oregon batter smashed a hit down the third-base line, forcing the third-base umpire to duck out of the way, Juneau manager Tom Rutecki said.
That umpire called it foul, and Juneau's defense eased up. But the home-plate umpire called the ball fair, and all three Oregon baserunners scored before Juneau could get back into the game.
Aided by several more Juneau errors, Oregon ended up scoring six runs in the inning and never looked back.
"It was a bummer," Rutecki said. "It was a learning experience. You have to hustle after everything. ... (You have to) play every ball like it's life or death."
Oregon added four more runs in the top of the sixth, and Juneau scored a run in the bottom of the sixth to make the final score 12-4.
Darby Brown and Trixie Abella had doubles for Juneau and Sasha Frye had two singles in the game. Lourdes Andes made two nice catches in left field. Carrie Laliberte pitched the game for Juneau.
Rutecki said Juneau also had some nice bunts in the game to advance runners.
If Juneau loses to Washington tonight, their season is finished. If they win, they will face Oregon on Saturday and would need to beat Oregon twice - on Saturday and again on Sunday - to win the tourney and advance to the Regional tourney in Sunnyvale, Calif.
In Little League baseball action, the Gastineau Channel Little League Juneau East All-Stars, champions of the District II Majors baseball tourney, will face District I champs Eagle River at 6 p.m. tonight in Wrangell. The game will be carried on KINY, AM 800.