The players and coaches of the Juneau Junior Baseball All-Stars will remember Thursday's state championship win for a long time.
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Juneau rallied from an 8-1 deficit with two innings to play, beating Dimond West 9-8 Thursday and capturing the Alaska State Little League Junior Baseball title in Eagle River.
"It was unbelievable," Juneau manager Rod Baker said. "It was the most exciting thing I think I ever saw in my life. The kids never gave up. I mean we were down 8-1. The air should've been taken out of them. I can't explain it."
Down seven runs with two innings to play, Juneau stuck for three runs in the top of the sixth and five more in the seventh to cap the improbable comeback. Justin Brooks' two-out, go-ahead RBI single in the seventh proved the game-winning hit.
Juneau struck for three runs in the sixth as Jamie Daniel, Vinnie Isturis and Aaron Cohen all singled and scored to cut Dimond West's lead to 8-3.
Relief pitcher Dominic Holloway, who came in with two outs in the fifth, then gave Juneau a shot in the arm by putting down Dimond West in order.
"The momentum definitely changed after Holloway came in and got three up, three down in the sixth," Baker said. "I was yelling to the kids that the momentum was changing. To score three in the sixth and go back out there and play defense and score five more runs was just unbelievable."
In the seventh and final inning, Juneau smacked six hits to key the comeback.
Daniel hit an RBI single, Isturis smacked a two-run double and Cohen added an RBI single. He also scored the game-winning run off Brooks' single. Holloway, Dylan Baker, Daniel and Isturis all scored in the decisive inning.
Juneau took an early 1-0 lead when Jamie Daniel tripled and scored on Aaron Cohen's double in the top of the first.
Dimond West battled back, however, striking for two runs in the second, one in the third, four in the fourth and one more in the fifth.
"They came back and played some really good small-ball and scored some runs," Rod Baker said of Dimond West. "They put up a heck of a battle. They are a really good team."
Daniel and Cohen each went 3-for-4 in the win while Isturis added two hits. Eric Sele contributed a single for Juneau.
Holloway allowed just one hit in 213 innings to earn the win.
Juneau will now represent Alaska in the Western Regional Tournament in Beaverton, Ore. The team opens play at 6 p.m. ADT Tuesday against the Idaho state champs.
The winner of the regional tourney goes to the Junior Baseball World Series in Taylor, Mich.
Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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