The Juneau American Legion Post 25 Midnight Suns had to outlast the Kenai Twin-City Twins before winning a 14-8 slugfest Saturday night in the District II tournament at McManus Fields in Wasilla.
Juneau, the district's regular-season champion, had a bye in the first round of the tournament, when Kenai beat Wasilla 10-4 and Fairbanks beat Homer-Kodiak 18-8 earlier on Saturday. Juneau's victory means the Midnight Suns will play Fairbanks at 2 p.m. today for a spot in Monday's 2 p.m. championship game. An if-necessary game is set for 2 p.m. on Tuesday.
The Midnight Suns jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the top of the first, and led the rest of the game. But Kenai stayed close every time Juneau scored runs. Juneau took an 8-1 lead in the third and a 10-2 lead after the top of the fourth.
Two errors helped Kenai close the gap to 10-5 in the bottom half of the inning. Juneau scored single runs in the fifth and sixth innings, but two more errors allowed Kenai to score three more runs in the bottom of the sixth. Juneau added two insurance runs in the top of the ninth.
Joe Ayers had three hits, including an RBI double in the fifth, scored three runs and stole three bases to lead Juneau at the plate. Bryson Buck also had three hits, three runs and three RBIs; while Zach Kohan hit an RBI triple in the fourth, had two hits and two runs scored. Evan Scandling scored two runs, Garrett Schoenberger had a run and an RBI, Mike Rader had two hits and an RBI, and the trio of Steve Hartrich, C.J. Corso and Bud Baun scored once each for Juneau.
Kenai's big blow came in the fourth inning when, after a Juneau double-error at first loaded the bases, Eric Newby cleared the bags with a double off the wall. But Rader was able to get the ball and fired it through a cut-off man to Kohan to get Newby out at third trying to stretch the double into a triple.
Scandling started for Juneau, with Baun picking up the victory in relief and Kalen Meek earning a save. Juneau scored 14 runs on 18 hits and had four errors, while Kenai scored eight runs on five hits and committed three errors.