JUNEAU - The Juneau Junior League All-Stars walloped Dimond West 21-11 at Adair-Kennedy baseball field on Saturday after scoring 12 runs in the fifth inning. The win came unexpectedly after Anchorage ran out of pitchers, earning Juneau the Alaska state title and the right to play for the District 52 Little League Junior championship in Aliso Viejo, California beginning Aug. 4.
Dimond's fifth-inning meltdown included 10 walks. Dimond used a total of six pitchers during the game, most of which got the hook for giving up too many free passes. Dimond pitchers also gave up three hits in the fifth before the 10-run mercy rule was invoked.
Dimond walked a total of 15 batters in the game.
Heading into the fifth, Dimond held an 11-9 lead despite going down 9-1 during the first inning of play. Dimond hitters rallied with six runs in the fourth.
However, Juneau was able to break the game open in the fifth, starting with a bases-loaded double from Trey Williams.
Juneau coaches Mark Pusich and Mike Kelly said a deeper bench of pitchers was a big key to victory in the three-game series.
"We knew coming into this (game) they were down pitchers. I thought our two pitchers came in and did a great job," Pusich said. "We've had a Dimond West monkey on our on back for a while, and its finally off our backs."
Juneau had lost to Dimond West teams four straight years, Pusich said.
Kelly said it was an exciting moment for his players.
"Our kids have battled these Dimond West guys for at least four years," he said. "They obviously ran out of pitchers by all the walks they had. And we still had a couple of pitchers that we could use ... They just ran out pitchers, plain and simple."
Juneau used its top two starting pitchers in the first two games and relied on third and fourth starters Jeffery Pusich and Kyle Gould to get the win on Saturday. They were helped by solid defense and timely hitting.
Lance Ibesate had a home run in the first inning and also turned a double play in the third. Ibesate made a spectacular diving catch on a hard line drive, and an easy throw to second base for the second out.
Juneau starter Jeffrey Pusich celebrated the win with his teammates after the game.
"All of us have been to state before and they have won the last four years in a row," he said.
After the win, the Juneau players charged the field and took a team victory lap around the bases.
The final score of Saturday's game was lop-sided, but the victory was not an easy one for Juneau. Dimond won the first game on Thursday 6-3. Juneau squeaked by 2-1, needing an extra inning, to win Game 2.
The Juneau All-Stars will travel to California next week to compete in a week-long tournament against 11 teams from other western states. The winner in California will advance to play for the Junior (ages 13-14) Little League World Series Aug. 16-22, in Bangor, Maine.
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