The Juneau Post 25 American Legion Midnight Suns baseball team was down to nine healthy bodies after losing an 8-1 decision to the Fairbanks Tri-Cities 49ers on Sunday in the District II tournament at Wasilla's McManus Field.
Juneau starting pitcher Will Nicholas pulled a pronator muscle in his pitching arm in the second inning of Sunday's game, and Evan Scandling, who was scheduled to throw in relief, was hit by a pitch on an elbow he fractured two years ago. Those two injuries, in addition to Nick Wolf's hospital visit last week in Fairbanks for an infected knee and Bruno Del Olmo's torn latissimus dorsi muscle in his back diagnosed before the tournament, meant Juneau lost four of its six pitchers by the third inning of Sunday's game.
"The road trip is taking its toll," Juneau head coach Jim Ayers said. "When Will went down, we brought in Lapaka Pavitt who pitched two days ago for a couple of innings, then we brought in Bryson Buck who said he last pitched in Little League."
Scandling went to the hospital after Sunday's game, and he will be out at least a week with a bad bruise that caused fluid to build up on his elbow. Nicholas is also out a week, as is Wolf. Del Olmo can play in the field but can't pitch the rest of the season.
Juneau swept two games in Fairbanks last week to win the district's regular-season title, earning an automatic berth into next week's state tournament in the process. But this time, Fairbanks was too much for Juneau as the 49ers knocked the Midnight Suns into the losers' bracket. Fairbanks scored three runs in the second inning and three more in the third, and added single runs in the fifth and seventh innings.
David Coldiron recorded 10 strikeouts for Fairbanks and held Juneau to five hits in the game, losing his shutout bid in the seventh inning. Alan Eddy hit a home run for Fairbanks, Walker Milliken added a double and a triple, while Brandon Lee, Eddy, Steve Shaver and Charles Kokrine each had two hits for the 49ers.
Juneau scored its only run in the seventh inning when Bud Baun doubled, then came home on a single by Joe Ayers. Mike Rader also hit a double for Juneau.
Fairbanks earned a spot in the title game with Sunday's victory and will play the winner of today's game between Juneau and the Kenai Twin City Twins for the district championship. Juneau and Kenai were supposed to play this morning, but rain caused the game to be postponed until tonight. The championship game, which was supposed to start at 2 p.m. today, also was postponed and probably won't be played until Tuesday afternoon. An if-necessary game is also scheduled for Tuesday night if the 49ers lose Tuesday afternoon.
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