Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Juneau’s Gastineau Channel Little League Majors All-Stars fell 4-2 to Eagle River’s Knik Little League in game one of their best-of-five state championship series on Friday at Anchorage’s Abbott-O-Rabbit Fields.
“Our defense played well today,” GCLL coach Jaysen Katasse said. “We would definitely like to get the bats a little hotter. It came down to the last chance with the bases loaded against a good solid team. We had a lot of opportunities to break that game wide open but their defense really stepped up too.”
Juneau spread nine hits over six innings and stranded 10 runners on base. They left the bases loaded twice, including their last at bat, but ran into an equally tough fielding team from up north.
Juneau put one run across the plate in the top of the first inning as Hunter Carte led off with a single and Micah Nelson doubled him home with a drive to right field.
Juneau added a run in the top of the second inning as Drew Cadigan-McAdoo led off with a double and was replaced by pinch runner Andrew Sanders, who stole third base and scored on a Vinny Nizich single for a 2-0 lead.
Knik got one run back as Bodi Anderson hit a lead-off home run in the bottom of the second and tied the game in the bottom of the third when Ethan Atkinson was hit by a pitch and scored on a double into center field by Weston Graecy.
Knik took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning as Wyatt Seegers reached on a fielder’s choice to shortstop Carte, who put out Knik’s Pace Newkirk at second. Seegers advanced on a wild pitch and scored on an Owen McNeil line drive to left field.
Juneau made a run at the lead in the top of the fifth when M. Nelson put a one-out double into center field and was sacrificed over to third by a Brenner Harralson ground out. KB Lim was hit by a pitch to reach first base and advanced to second on a wild pitch with Parker Katasse at the plate. Katasse earned a walk to load the bases and Cardigan-McAdoo put a full count pitch into the air that Knik first baseman Gus Westerlund tracked down to end the threat.
“I think we did really good tonight,” Parker Katasse said. “It was a really close game. If we got a bit more hits it would have been a different game.”
Knik added a run in the bottom of the fifth inning when Atkinson hit a lead-off double into left field, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on a one-out single by Anderson for 4-2.
Juneau put a threat into the game in their final at bat as Henry Maier worked a one-out walk and Carte followed one out later to put runners on first and second and M. Nelson singled to load the bases. But Knik second baseman Atkinson made a tough fielding play on a hard hit by Noah Lewis for the game ending out.
“I thought that the game was super close and really good,” Henry Maier said. “I think we are going to get back out there tomorrow and get a win.”
M. Nelson led the Juneau bats with four hits, Cadigan-McAdoo had two and Carte, Isaac Kirsch and Nizich had one each. M. Nelson and Nizich had one RBI apiece. Carte and Sanders scored one run apiece. Carte, Katasse and Maier earned one walk each.
Carte started for Juneau and went two innings, Katasse relieved for 2.1 innings and Kirsch closed.
“We plan to got out there tomorrow and have some fun and hopefully win,” Kirsch said. “I think today in our first game if a couple of things had gone our way instead of going their way maybe it would have been a little different but I think tomorrow’s game is going to be really fun too. It is also going to be close. Today’s game was fun and like I said, I came here to have fun.”
Gerardo Palomores earned the win for Knik over three innings, Cole Lux relieved for 1.2 innings. Atkinson and Seegers closed.
Anderson had two RBI for Knik and Graecy one. Anderson and Atkinson had two hits apiece and Graecy, Palomores, Newkirk, Seegers and Justyn Betsayad had one each. Atkinson scored two runs, while Anderson and Seegers scored one apiece.
Juneau and Knik play Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. and if necessary games on Monday and Tuesday at 6 p.m.
“We’ll get a good nights rest tonight,” coach Katasse said. “Get up early, get some breakfast, head to the field and get some batting practice in. Let the boys get some time on that grass field. They are playing on grass probably for the first time in their lives. It is definitely an adjustment but they are having a blast already. We told them that they were hanging in there, they were close, a couple plays could have gone either way. There is nothing we really want to change. We are playing hard. Our pitching stepped up today. We have some gamers.”