ANCHORAGE - Juneau's Junior Baseball Little League team, ages 13-14, lost a tough series in the state championship to defending champion Dimond West last Wednesday and Thursday in Anchorage.
Coming into the series, Dimond West was undefeated, outscoring its opponents 110-6.
"We came into the first game a little apprehensive but were able hold DW to six runs, the lowest they have ever scored," Juneau manager Sheldon Winters said. "And in turn, we left 11 runners on base."
With a few more timely hits, the outcome of the first game might have been different, but it gave Juneau players the confidence going into Game 2 that they could compete and win the tourney.
In Game 2 on Thursday, Juneau bats came out swinging, taking a 4-2 lead after the first three innings. Juneau chased the first two Dimond West pitchers out of the game in the first two innings, forcing them to use their top pitcher, who is "by far the best pitcher in the state," Winters said.
"When we started hitting him too, our confidence really sored and we believed we had a real chance at winning the game and going into the final game with momentum on our side," Winters added.
In the fifth inning, Dimond West was forced to go to its small ball game, putting pressure on Juneau's defense and scoring three runs to take the lead and ultimately win the game 7-4.
"Defending the bunt was something we drilled and drilled for weeks. Unfortunately, we didn't mentally execute the play when it mattered and it cost us the game - that's what makes baseball what it is," Winters said. "Dimond West executed when it counted and we didn't - at this level of ball, all it takes is one mistake - the details are what matters."
Nevertheless, Winters told his team they "just lost to a very, very good team that had to use all their experience and skill to beat us, which means we must be very good too, and they should be proud of what they accomplished."
Dimond West coaching staff came out of the tournament with a lot of respect for the Juneau team and program.
"This is the first time in two years the Dimond West team has been behind and the closest series they have had in the state in two years. A lot of our kids are only 13 and looking forward to a rematch next year."
LITTLE LEAGUE TOURNAMENTS STANDINGS, SCHEDULES
Alaska State Junior BaseballTournament in Anchorage
Dimond West 2-0
(best 2 out of 3)
Dimond West 6, Juneau 0
Dimond West 7, Juneau 4
Dimond West is the Alaska State Junior Baseball champion and advances to the Regional Tournament in Aliso Viejo, Calif., July 29-Aug. 5.
Alaska State Major BaseballTournament in Anchorage
(Juneau West is representing Alaska District 2 in the tournament hosted by Alaska District 1 and Dimond West)
Dimond West 1-1
Juneau West 1-1
Dimond West 7, Juneau West 2
Juneau West 11, Dimond West 4
The winner advances to the Regional Tournament in San Bernardino, Calif., Aug. 1-10.
Alaska State Senior BaseballTournament in Anchorage
(best 2 out of 3)
Sitka 8, Kodiak 0
Kodiak 9 vs. Sitka 8
Sitka 13 vs. Kodiak 2
Sitka is the Alaska State Senior Baseball champion and advances to the Regional Tournament in Ontario, Calif., July 29- Aug. 5.
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