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KETCHIKAN - Sitka pulled off an improbable come-from-behind win in the finals of Major League District 2 Baseball Tournament, rallying from a five-run deficit in the final two innings to top Juneau West 7-6 to earn a berth in the state tournament.
Sitka's first three batters in the sixth reached base safely, and Alec McGraw changed everything with one swing. McGraw sent an offering from Juneau West pitcher Nick Stewart over the centerfield fence for a three-run home run, bringing the score to 6-5 and giving Sitka hope.
It cashed in on that hope, scoring one more run in the sixth to tie the game, and pushing across the game-winner in the bottom of the seventh to beat Juneau West 7-6 for the District 2 championship.
"Wow. These kids are unbelievable," Sitka coach Bruce Belley said. "We just put a few hits together and next thing you know, we're in it and tie it up, and made all the right plays.
"These kids, they had all the energy."
Erickson Fish led off the bottom of the sixth for Sitka with a single, advancing to third on a pair of wild pitches by Stewart.
Fish scored on a single by Louis Belley, after which Collin Ludeman replaced Stewart on the mound for Juneau West. Ludeman induced a grounder to second from the first batter he faced, but Juneau West's firstbaseman dropped the throw.
Then came McGraw's blast, pulling Sitka to within one before Juneau West recorded an out.
After Fish sat Juneau West down in order in the top of the seventh, Belley led off Sitka's half of the inning with a single when Juneau West's second baseman and centerfielder allowed a soft fly ball to land between them.
Isaiah Jensen moved Belley to second with a slow roller to the mound. McGraw followed with a single to left field, and when Bruce Belley held Louis Belley at third, Sitka had runners at the corners with one out.
"These outfielders, they know how to throw home, they've (thrown Sitka runners out at home) twice now in this tournament. I know that," Bruce Belley said. "I didn't want to take the bat out of our player's hand."
Kyle Fitzsimmons took that opportunity, hitting a sharp grounder to Juneau West's Nathan Klein at shortstop. When Klein's throw home sailed over the catcher's head, Sitka had the title.
Fish earned the win for Sitka, pitching five innings in relief and allowing three earned runs. He struck out seven batters and retired the last seven Juneau West hitters he faced in order, five on strikeouts.
Juneau West appeared to be the stronger team from the start, scoring four runs off Sitka starter AJ Inman in the first inning. Klein started the game for West, going five innings and allowing three hits and four earned runs while striking out 12.
Juneau West tore through the tournament competition earlier in the week, compiling a 5-0 record in round-robin play before beating Ketchikan 5-2 in the semifinals Sunday to reach the championship game.
Sitka now will stay in Ketchikan until the start of the state tournament Thursday, where it will face Knik, winner of the District 1 Tournament, in a best-of-three series to decide which team will advance to the Major League Regionals.
"I'm expecting a guy that throws speed with a curveball, and that's hard for most kids this age to hit," Belley said. "We've been working on it ... we just need to play solid ball."
Juneau West 5, Ketchikan 2
Juneau West rallied for a 5-2 win over Ketchikan on Sunday, earning a championship-game berth in the Major League Division 2 Baseball Tournament at Norman Walker Field.
Juneau West scored four runs in the top of the sixth to rally from a 2-1 deficit after the offense came alive. Ryan Hoover doubled down the line in right, followed by an R.J. Markvich double to tie the game.
Markovich scored on a ground ball by Nathan Kline that hit Ketchikan first baseman Matt Hendricks in the foot. A double by Collin Ludeman scored Klein to push Juneau ahead 4-2. Ludeman would then score on wild pitch to set the final margin.
Markovich picked up the win for Juneau, pitching four innings without allowing a run and striking out eight.
Juneau West 17,
Prince of Wales 2
Juneau West pounded Prince of Wales 17-2 on Friday in Game 5 of the District 2 BaseballTournament behind 14 base hits.
Nick Stewart had four hits and two RBIs for Juneau, while Jake Bicknell hit an inside-the-park grand slam. Eleven Juneau players crossed the plate in the four-inning game. Four Juneau pitchers combined for seven strikeouts.
Juneau West 8, Sitka 3
Juneau West picked up an 8-3 win on Saturday over Sitka in a rain-delayed Game 4 of the Majors District 2 Baseball Tournament on.
Nathan Klein had two hits and three RBIs, while Jake Bicknell had two hits. R.J. Markovich and Klein each recorded three strikeouts.