The Juneau West All Stars from the Gastineau Channel Little League came up short in their quest for a state title Sunday in Petersburg.
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Dimond-West Little League from Anchorage jumped to a 6-0 lead and held on to win its fifth-straight Alaska State Little League Major Baseball Championship by a score of 9-4. After dropping Game 1 of the best-of-three series Friday, Dimond-West rallied to win two straight games and the title.
"The kids played hard and we're really proud of them," Juneau West manager Mark Pusich said. "They were refusing to lose all the way to the end. It was a great year. They had a great season, and there's lots to be proud of. We're coming back with a District 2 banner, but Dimond-West just hit the ball better."
Down 6-0, Juneau West made a run at Dimond-West in the bottom of the fourth.
Jeffrey Pusich laced a two-run double, scoring Jackson Lehnhart and Ryan Kelly. Two batters later, pinch hitter Zach Miller plated Christian Gould and Pusich with a two-out, two-run single to cut Dimond-West's lead to 6-4.
That was all the offense Juneau West mustered, however.
After a scoreless fifth inning, Dimond-West put the game away with three runs in the sixth. Two unearned runs and a solo home run by Matt Ilalio sealed the Anchorage boys' fifth-straight trip to the Northwest Region Tournament.
"It was a tough loss but they left it all out on the field," Mark Pusich said. "We didn't make the plays when we had to."
Dimond-West opened the game with unearned runs in the first and second inning to go up 2-0. Dimond-West scored two runs each in the third and fourth innings to go ahead 6-0.
Peyton Lauwers scattered four hits, struck out two batters and walked two in six innings for Dimond-West.
"We were two very evenly matched teams and our kids knew that," Mark Pusich said. "We just couldn't put the ball in play and get the timely hits. That'll happen. That's baseball."
Juneau West starter Christian Gould allowed three earned runs on four hits in 3⅓ innings of work. Pusich struck out six batters and allowed six hits in 2⅔ innings of relief.
Also for Juneau West, Duane Cooper laid down a bunt single to lead off the third inning.
Dimond-West will represent Alaska in the Northwest Region Tournament in San Bernardino, Calif. Dimond-West will take on the Washington state champs, Kent Little League, at 8 a.m. ADT Friday.
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