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The three Juneau East Majors Little League coaches are a little lighter in the hair department after the Gastineau Channel Little League Juneau East All-Stars earned the rights to take razors to hair following their 11-3 victory over Abbott-O-Rabbit on Monday night at Abbott-O-Rabbit's Black Field in Anchorage.
The victory gave the Juneau East All-Stars the Alaska State Majors Division (age 11-12) Little League Championship, and it earned the team a trip to San Bernardino, Calif., for the 14-team Western Region Tournament. Juneau East opens play in the region tourney at 11 a.m. ADT Sunday against Colorado.
It also earned the players the right to take shears to their coaches' hair.
"It's a little lighter, a little cooler," Juneau East head coach Rod Baker said of his new 'do. "There's about a quarter-inch left, and my head will probably burn when we're in California."
"I'm a little worried about it coming back," Juneau East coach Bob Jacobsen said. "But a promise made is a debt until it's fulfilled. At the start of the season our manager (Baker) told the kids he'd let them shave his head if they won state, and they asked if that meant the coaches, too. So we were all a part of it."
Abbott-O-Rabbit, which eliminated North Pole 13-6 on Sunday, struck first as George Coleman hit the first pitch from Juneau East pitcher Clae Baker for a double and Terry Zigarlick followed with a single. Those would be the only two hits Baker allowed before he was pulled entering the sixth inning. Baker had no walks and struck out three batters in his five innings of work.
Juneau East scored six runs in the third inning as Bryan Crowder hit a lead-off double, Gary Stephens singled him to third, then Nico Saldivar doubled to left to score Crowder and Stephens. Zach Heppner walked one out later, and Chris Hinkley doubled off the fence in left centerfield to score Saldivar and Heppner. Bobby Cramer, who'd been in an 0-for-10 slump, then homered over the centerfield fence to score Hinkley and himself.
"I firmly believe hitting is contagious, especially once you string a couple together," Rod Baker said. "I don't know if it's psychological, but it works."
In the top of the sixth inning, Juneau East added five more runs as Stephens singled, Saldivar walked and Nano Jacobsen singled to load the bases, then Heppner hit a two-run single to score Stephens and Saldivar. Hinkley singled home Jacobsen, then an out later Clae Baker hit a two-run single to bring home Heppner and Hinkley.
Abbott-O-Rabbit had a small two-out, two-run rally off Jacobsen, who relieved Baker, as Zach Sterling singled and Zigarlick homered.
"Having as many games as we played brought the team together," Rod Baker said of the nine games Juneau East played in the District 2-Southeast tournament in Petersburg before state. "We're really pumped up. We couldn't be more excited. Our defense has been incredible and I expect us to be competitive in San Bernardino."
AMERICAN LEGION RAINED OUT
The Juneau American Legion Post 25 Midnight Suns were rained out of their game District 2 tournament game against the Kenai Twin-City Twins on Monday at Wasilla's McManus Fields.
The Midnight Suns and the Twins were going to try again at 10 a.m. today, but the weather was still marginal when the team was contacted just before game time. The winner of the Juneau-Kenai game was to play Fairbanks at 2 p.m. today for the district championship, with an if-necessary game scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday if Fairbanks should lose.
Fairbanks is the only undefeated team left in the double-elimination tournament. Wasilla and Homer-Kodiak have been eliminated. Fairbanks, Juneau, Kenai and Wasilla have all earned berths at this weekend's state American Legion tournament in Anchorage.