Juneau's Gastineau Channel Little League All-Stars opened the Pacific Northwest Division Junior (age 13-14) Little League Softball Tournament with a 9-2 victory over Oregon on Saturday in Mount Vernon, Wash.
The victory over the Oregon champs, from Baker, Ore., came despite concern from several coaches that the tournament fields weren't safe. The Alaska, Idaho and Hawaii coaches threatened not to play games on the designated fields, but Saturday's game took place after the coaches (with help from Oregon and Washington) held a work party Friday to get rid of some of the lumps and other bad spots.
"They're still kind of dangerous," Juneau head coach Steve Bavard said. "It was a baseball field, and they knocked down the pitcher's mound and added dirt to the infield to try and make it a softball field. It wasn't up to softball standards, and there are still a bunch of lumps. We're just hoping to get through without any injuries."
Bavard said Juneau beat a tough Oregon team, and jumped on Oregon starter Amber Uriarte for three runs in the first inning on a string of singles. Juneau added single runs in both the second and third innings, then scored two more in the fifth inning to lead 7-0. Oregon scored one run in the sixth, but Juneau answered with two in the top of the seventh before allowing Oregon to counter with one in the bottom of the inning. Ashley Larson threw the first four innings for Juneau, while Arika Lindsey pitched the final three innings for the save.
"Ashley and Arika kept the ball down and we made good plays behind them," Bavard said. "They couldn't get the ball out of the infield, other than about four times. Jordan (Johnston) in right field had a couple of good plays."
Lindsey went 3-for-5 to lead Juneau, adding an RBI triple in the third inning and an RBI double in the fifth for Juneau's only extra-base hits. Lindsey had three RBIs and two runs scored. Larson also went 3-for-5 with one run and two RBIs. Hannah Barril scored twice and had an RBI, Melissa White and Erika Horst both scored runs, while Johnston, Stephanie Smathers and Ilea Belcourt each had one RBI.
Juneau is off today, and will play the winner of the Washington-Montana game in winners' bracket action at 4 p.m. (Alaska time) on Monday.
Juneau's GCLL All-Stars had the lead, but couldn't hold it as they opened the Pacific Northwest Division Senior (age 15-16) Little League Baseball Tournament with a 6-4 loss to Idaho on Friday in Vancouver, Wash.
The Idaho champs, from North Boise, Idaho, took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning. But Juneau scored three runs in the fourth as Kyle Lanz singled home Mike Foster with a run, then Wil Ridgeway doubled home Lanz and Sergio Magallanes to make it 3-1 Juneau. Idaho scored twice in the top of the fifth inning, but Juneau took a 4-3 lead as Foster scored from second on an error off the bat from Erik Scholl.
Idaho won the game in the sixth inning as it scored three runs on a couple of errors, a walk, a midjudged fly to right, and a couple of hits, Juneau coach Bill McCauley said.
Lanz threw a complete game for Juneau, allowing five hits and striking out seven but also walking nine batters. Foster, Juneau's catcher, threw out two Idaho runners trying to steal second.
"We had a little bit of the jitters, and I think we got frustrated," McCauley said.
Juneau was off Saturday and will play Hawaii at 7 p.m. (Alaska time) tonight. Hawaii beat Montana 10-0 on Friday and lost 4-3 to Oregon on Saturday. McCauley said the Hawaii team may be the most fundamentally sound defensive team in the tournament.
Juneau East had to fight from behind, but they came back to claim a 5-4 victory over North Pole on Saturday in the Alaska State Majors Division (age 11-12) Little League Baseball Tournament at Abbott-O-Rabbit Fields in Anchorage.
North Pole's Bryan Hunt, who led off his team's 17-5 victory over Abbott-O-Rabbit with a home run and later added a grand slam, also led off Saturday's game with a solo homer to give North Pole a 1-0 lead. But Juneau East tied it in the bottom of the second inning on a fluke base-running play. With the bases loaded, Clae Baker thought he drew a bases-loaded walk and started toward first as Chris Hinkley walked home from third, only to have the North Pole coach scream there were only three balls as Hinkley crossed the plate.
North Pole took a 3-1 lead in the third as Hunt walked, then Chris Koenen and Derek Wilson hit back-to-back RBI doubles. Juneau East loaded the bases in the third, but couldn't score. In the fourth, North Pole made it 4-1 as Ben Everett walked, Hunt singled and Koenen hit an RBI single. But Juneau East changed pitchers, with Shawn Ibesate relieving Hinkley, and Ibesate got the next three outs to escape the jam.
Juneau East scored twice in the fourth to make it 4-3 as Baker walked, took second on a sacrifice bunt by Brian Decker, and scored when Nico Saldivar hit a shot to third that resulted in an overthrow of first. Nana Jacobsen singled Saldivar to second, a fielder's choice by Bobby Cramer erased Saldivar at third, and Hinkley hit a shot to short that was bobbled as Jacobsen scored.
Juneau East tied it in the fifth inning as Bryan Crowder walked, took third on a single by Baker and scored on an RBI single by Saldivar. North Pole had a runner on first in the top of the sixth, but a double play ended the inning. In the bottom of the sixth, Juneau East scored the winning run when Hinkley reached on an error at third, Ibesate reached on an error at short, then Hinkley scored on a passed ball.
Juneau East is off today, while North Pole and Abbott-O-Rabbit play in an elimination game. The winner of today's NP-AOR game will play Juneau East at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, with an if-necessary game set for 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday.