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It was one of those games where the elements took over.
Facing afternoon temperatures over 100 degrees - so hot both teams had players requiring post-game IVs - it was the Alaska team that suffered the most.
Despite being tied in the fourth inning, Juneau's Gastineau Channel Little League All-Stars lost 14-3 to Northern California (Roseville's Woodcreek Little League) on Monday's final day of round-robin pool play in the Western Regional Junior Division (age 13-14) Baseball Tournament in Forest Grove, Ore.
"We didn't lose to that team. It was a yellow ball in the sky that kicked us," Juneau manager Norm Staton said. "We were sucking down water like crazy. We filled a 32-gallon garbage can full of empty water and Gatorade bottles."
Both teams already had clinched spots in today's semifinals, so the game only mattered for pride and seeding. It was Juneau's first loss in nine tournament games going back to the district tournament in Wrangell.
Northern California (4-0) takes the top seed in Pool A and faces Pool B runner-up Arizona (North Scottsdale) in the early semifinal, while Juneau plays Pool B champion Hawaii (Pearl City) in the late semifinal at 7 p.m. ADT, which will be broadcast on KJNO-AM 630. The championship game is Wednesday night.
Early in Monday's game, Juneau and Northern California swapped runs with Juneau scoring single runs in two innings, then Northern California matching the runs in its half of the frame. But in the fourth inning, Northern California broke a 2-2 tie with eight runs.
"Once we started to fall, we just had to let it go," said Staton, who started saving pitchers for today's game. "Our guys were drained. In the first and third innings we had the bases loaded, but base-running errors took us out of it. We just weren't into the game. The sun was too much for us."
Buzz Ward started the game, but was pulled after one inning and Christopher Millay went the next three frames. Geoffrey Davis pitched the fifth and sixth innings, while Shawn Ibesate threw the seventh. Staton said he plans to start Joe Kohan in today's semifinal, then use Ward if Juneau makes Wednesday's title game.
Hunter Wolfe went 2-for-2 with a pair of RBI singles to lead Juneau at the plate, while Ward went 1-for-2 with a run and an RBI. The other Juneau runs were scored by Zach Heppner and Jon Davis.
"We play Hawaii at 8 (PDT) tonight, so it'll be under the lights and cooler," Staton said.
In other Little League tournament action on Monday, Juneau's GCLL Senior All-Stars (age 15-16) softball team closed out round-robin play in its Western Regional with a 1-0 loss in nine innings to Arizona (Mesa's Red Mountain Little League) in Chico, Calif. The game ended when Arizona's Michelle Gorzelle scored from third on Sara Washburn's fielder's choice to second.
The loss eliminated Juneau from the tournament with a 1-3 record in round-robin pool play. Arizona improved to 3-0 and clinched the top seed in Wednesday's championship game. Round-robin pool play continues today, but Juneau has a bye and is done for the tournament.
"We had a good talk before the game and we knew even if we won we had a real slim chance to make the final," Juneau manager Dennis Powers said. "So we were going to play for pride and go out showing our stuff. This was our best defensive game of the year."
Monday's game was a pitchers' duel between Juneau's Madison Massey and the Arizona duo of Washburn and Boogie Craig. Massey scattered three hits, three strikeouts and two walks over 8 2/3 innings, while Washburn and Craig combined to throw a five-hitter with 15 strikeouts.
"Their first pitcher (Washburn) was fast and she had a good change-up, but Andi (Doerflinger) was hitting her pretty hard," said Powers, whose team returns to Juneau at 9:30 p.m. Thursday. "They brought in the other girl (Craig) and she threw slow stuff, and our girls couldn't sit back and wait on it."
Doerflinger went 2-for-4 in the game, as did Sammy Roguska. Kayla Janelle was 1-for-2 and had the other Juneau hit. On defense, Juneau received solid infield play from player of the game Rachelle Miller at shortstop, Doerflinger at third and Alicia Maryott at second.