Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Juneau’s Post 25 American Legion baseball team topped Dimond Post 21 in a non-league game, 10-3 on Thursday at Adair Kennedy Field.
“Defense is something we still need to improve on,” Juneau co-coach Jeremy Ludeman said. “We have to keep striving for that quality. Even in today’s game we had a few errors that could have changed and ended the game earlier and saved a bit of our pitching.”
Austin McCurley earned the win going five innings, allowing two hits and three runs with seven strikeouts and six walks. Garrison Luben relieved for 1.2 innings and struck out two and Kai Schmidt came in to get the final out.
“Pitching wise we have been doing just fine,” Ludeman said. “Austin started out strong and had good control of the game. He got us further than we were expecting to go so we are really pleased with his performance.”
Chase Foster earned three walks, had one hit, scored two runs and one stolen base.
More importantly Foster, one of the older players, wore the catcher’s gear behind the plate and kept the McCurley and the other pitchers settled down.
“I talk to them when they need it,” Foster said. “Try to keep the hitters on edge so they are not expecting what is coming from him (McCurley). He hasn’t had very many outings but that was definitely his best one and I guess he has found it.”
Foster said he likes the team’s energy.
“We are young,” he said. “We may have a height disadvantage but we are showing people we can play ball with them. It is interesting because I took a year-and-a-half away from baseball and I was missing it a lot. So I thought I would come out and play with these guys one more year and it is really working out. It is my best year so far and the guys are being supportive. They are great teammates. It is a good feeling to have those guys behind my back. Our goal is to light up our bats. We had a good hitting game today but we could do better.”
Brock McCormick led the Juneau bats, going 2-3, with two RBI and two runs scored and earning one walk. McCormick put a hard fly ball over the left field fence for a home run in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Isaiah Nelson had one run , one walk and one stolen base; Oliver Mendoza had one RBI, one run and one walk; Christian Ludeman walked three times and scored two runs; McCurley had one hit, two RBI and three walks; Porter Nelson had one hit, two RBI, one stolen base and scored one run; Kai Schmidt earned one walk; and Olin Rawson earned two walks and scored one run.
Rawson has been one of the more productive players throughout the season for Post 25.
“I like that we are developing as a team,” Rawson said. “Our hitting started off a little rough in the beginning but I think we are getting to be a pretty good hitting team now. I’m glad to see the guys working hard to do better.”
Rawson said he is trying to give back to the younger players.
“Discipline,” he said. “And a lot of the past teams have shown me how to be as a younger player so I like to show that for them.”
Dimond’s Shane Stephan, Miah Eneix, Garrett Lick and Rhino Henrickson had one hit each. Joe Moriarty, Logan Smith and Gage Smart scored one run each. Stephan and Lick had one RBI apiece.
Smith, Ryan Swanstrom, Adam Boyce and Alex Wright all had trips to the mound for Post 21.
The two teams play again on tonight at 6:30 p.m. in a league game. Post 25 will be joined by the Gastineau Channel Little League Majors All-Stars for the national anthem.
Juneau and Dimond play a league game on Saturday at 1 p.m. followed by a non-league game at 3:30.
The league games will play an important role in the season-ending state tournament at Anchorage.
The top two teams in each division automatically advance to the state tournament, and then the next four teams across both divisions.
South has clinched the American Division with a 13-0 (17-2 overall) record to date. Dimond is 8-4 (11-6), Chugiak 7-7 (9-11), Palmer 6-5 (10-9), Juneau 6-3 (11-3), North Pole 4-6 (7-8) and Bartlett 1-9 (3-15).
Only seven league games remain, and Juneau and Dimond are fighting for that second bid to state in the American Division with Chugiak, Palmer, and North Pole. Bartlett is out of the running
Service 10-2 (14-7) leads the National Division, followed by Eagle River 6-6 (13-6), Fairbanks 6-5 (8-7), West 5-7 (6-11), Ketchikan 5-4 (7-7), Kenai 3-8 (6-13), East 2-12 (2-19) and Wasilla 3-7 (7-9).
“The team knows what is on the line when it comes to league games and the importance of those league games,” Ludeman said. “They are setting goals for the weekend and one of the primary goals is quality baseball. Make the routine plays and stay positive and play hard.”