Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Juneau’s Post 25 American Legion Baseball team put four runs across the plate in the top of the first inning but South Post 4 did that and more in a state semifinal 11-5 win over the capital city boys.
“South is a well-coached, very good team,” Juneau co-coach Joe Tompkins said. “And you can’t make the errors we did and expect to win.”
Juneau opened the game error free as Isaiah Nelson singled to lead off the top of the first inning, Christen Ludeman hit a one-out double and Gavin Millard singled in Nelson. Brock McCormick walked to load the bases and South pitcher Isaac Johnson balked, moving the runners up a base and scoring Ludeman. Austin McCurley singled to score Millard and McCormick scored on a passed ball for a 4-0 lead.
“It was exciting to think the boys were listening to what we were saying,” Tompkins said. “Then South put up five and our guys made some errors and got down on themselves.”
South put five runs across in the bottom of the first with Kellen Curtis scoring on a Dylan Maltby single, Maltby scoring on a Joey Serra double, Maddox Solanof and Serra scoring on a Juneau fielding error, and Kaden Bevegni scoring on another fielding error.
In the bottom of the fourth South’s Grayson Shaw and Skyler Sugita scored on a Reid Brock single to left field and Curtis scored on a fielding error.
In the bottom of the fifth Curtis and Brock scored on a single by Molanof and in the bottom of the sixth Sugita scored on a triple by Curtis for South’s final run.
Juneau put a last run across in the top of the final seventh inning as Landon Simonson led off with a single to left. Joe Aline came in as a pinch runner and reached second on a sacrifice bunt by Porter Nelson. A balk by South pitcher Hunter Manderson moved Aline to third and I. Nelson hit a fielder’s choice to South shortstop Curtis that gave Aline the jump to get across the plate.
I. Nelson, Millard and McCurley had one RBI each. I. Nelson, Ludeman, Millard, McCurley and Simonson had one hit each. I. Nelson, Ludeman, Millard and McCormick scored one run each. McCormick earned two walks, Chase Foster one.
McCormick started and went 4.2 innings, allowed 10 hits and 10 runs and struck out two and walked six. Kai Schmidt threw five pitches and allowed one hit. P. Nelson went 1.1 innings and allowed one hit, one run and struck out one.
South’s Isaac Johnson went 6 innings, allowed five hits and five runs, struck out five and walked three. Manderson closed, striking out one.
Brock, Solanof and Serra had two RBI each for South, Curtis, Maltby and Reece Ivanoff one each. Solanof and Serra had three hits apiece, Curts two, Brock, Maltby, Shaw and Sugita one each. Curtis scored three runs, Sugita two, Brock, Malby, Solanof, Serra, Bevegni and Shaw one each.
South advances to the state championship final on Tuesday against Eagle River, a 7-0 winner over Ketchikan Post 3 in Monday’s second semifinal.
“The boys made it to the final four of the state tournament,” Tompkins said. “That’s pretty good representation of southeast baseball. It’s pretty impressive that you have two teams from southeast playing against all these teams from up north. Everybody ups there game up here, they are well coached, they have great teams up here. Now we will go home and see if we can raise enough money to come back up here for the next tournament.”
The State Tournament winner advances to Northwest Regionals at Gillette, Wyoming on August 4-8, and a chance to advance to the American Legion World Series at Shelby, North Carolina, August 12-17. Last season the tournaments were canceled due to COVID-19.
The runner-up in the state tournament will play in the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament (NWCART) at Anchorage’s Mulcahy Stadium, Aug. 6-10.
The NWCART will feature three Lower 48 teams from Montana, Idaho and Wyoming and five teams from Alaska. Also qualifying from Alaska are the state tournament third, fourth and fifth place teams (Juneau, Ketchikan and Service) and the Matson Invitational winner (undefeated Wasilla Post 35 plays West Post 1 on Tuesday for the honor).