Anchorage, Alaska (KINY) - This was not the way the Juneau-Douglas baseball team’s script was intended to be written, losing in the semifinals to one of the state’s best, but knowing they had the opportunities to wear the spoils of victory.
The Crimson Bears fell 11-7 to the South Anchorage Wolverines, a baseball program purists consider one of the state’s finest.
“We played a great game,” Juneau-Douglas coach Chad Bentz said. “It just didn’t up our way. And that happens. I am very proud of these guys. They played their hearts out. There are some situations that we just didn’t end up on the top and that is the game of baseball.”
The Crimson Bears left one runner on base in the first inning, three in the second, scored five runs in the third inning, left one on in the fifth, scored one run and left three runners on base in the sixth inning, and scored one run and let three runners on base in the seventh and final inning.
“We had pressure on them multiple times,” Bentz said. “We’ll never know. If this was a best of seven series, you never know. South is a great team. Hats off to them. They didn’t make as many mistakes. They had some really good timely hitting and some good pitching. They finished it up. They did enough to win. I wish them nothing but the best of luck. And if we are going to get beat I am glad it is by a good ball club.”
South scored one run in the top of the second inning, four in the fourth, two in the fifth and four in the seventh inning.
“There is nothing I can say to these guys that is going to take away that hurt,” Bentz said. “I just told them, ‘Hey, we have to make the least amount of mistakes and we didn’t. That happens and it’s okay.’ These guys are kids and they worked their butts off. I am just bummed for them but very, very proud of them.”
Junior Porter Nelson led Juneau-Douglas with four RBI and junior Kai Schmidt had one.
Senior Olin Rawson had two hits, senior Brock McCormick, sophomore Kaleb Campbell, Nelson and Schmidt had one each.
Rawson scored two runs, senior Garrett Bryant, sophomore Caden Mesdag, McCormick, Campbell and Schmidt one each.
Mesdag and Campbell drew three walks apiece, Bryant and Schmidt two apiece, junior Gavin Millard and Rawson one apiece.
South’s Curtis Hebert went 4-4 at the plate with one RBI and three runs scored. Kellen Curtis, Maddux Soland and Andrew Buckendorf had two RBI each for the Wolverines.
Ryan Watson started on the mound for South, Oliver Brown relieved and earned the win, and Hebert closed.
McCormick took the loss for Juneau-Douglas over 4.1 innings with five strikeouts and five walks, and Schmidt relieved.
“They are a great bunch of guys,” senior Brock McCormick said of his Crimson Bears’ teammates. “It is unfortunate that this is the outcome. A lot of errors. Me, myself, I didn’t pitch the greatest game of my life. Hats off to South because they are a great bunch of guys. To beat them we have got to be nearly perfect. They are a great ball team. I think we are too, we just didn’t have our best game. We’ll come to play tomorrow. We will be bummed tonight but we’ll come back tomorrow one hundred percent ready to go.”
The Crimson Bears play the Eagle River Wolves at 12:30 p.m., Saturday, at Mulcahy Stadium Field for third place.
“We’re not done,” Bentz said. “We are going to come out and play a good Eagle River club and we are hopefully going to finish strong.”
South will play Colony, a 9-6 winner over Eagle River, for the state championship at 3 p.m.
Southeast number two seed Sitka defeated Chugiak 3-2 in the consolation bracket and will play Wasilla at 10 a.m. in the 4th/6th place game.
Above - Juneau-Douglas sophomore third baseman Kaleb Campbell tags South Anchorage junior Oliver Brown during the Crimson Bears loss to the Wolverines in the DI baseball state championships at Anchorage's Mulcahy Stadium on Friday. (Klas Stolpe / KINY)