The Juneau Post 25 team celebrates their 2017 American Legion Alaska State Tournament championship, Saturday, July 30, at Mulcahy Stadium in Anchorage. The team defeated South Post 4 and Service Post 28 on the final day of the tournament to win the title. (Photo courtesy of Tami Wahto)

The Juneau Post 25 team celebrates their 2017 American Legion Alaska State Tournament championship, Saturday, July 30, at Mulcahy Stadium in Anchorage. The team defeated South Post 4 and Service Post 28 on the final day of the tournament to win the title. (Photo courtesy of Tami Wahto)

First in Legion: Juneau wins state championship

Sport is a wonderful thing. Especially if you’re Juneau Post 25 manager Joe Tompkins.

Sharing a house with 15 teenagers over the last 10 days during the team’s final road trip in Anchorage, Tompkins couldn’t wait to get to the ballpark each day.

“They’re like cats and dogs when they are at the house,” Tompkins said. “But when they get to the field, they actually calm down and play some baseball.”

Those cats and dogs were named champions Saturday night.

Juneau rode a strong outing by Finn Collins — who struck out six batters and gave up two hits —to a 3-1 victory over Service Post 28 in the championship game.

“I was just looking to throw strikes and let my defense work, and it showed off today,” Collins said.

Juneau’s defense sure did show off. Catcher Alex Muir tossed out runners trying to steal second, shortstop Zeb Storie initiated double plays and Bryce Swofford used his 6-foot-7 frame to his advantage at first base.

“Today’s motto was, ‘We didn’t come this far, to come this far,’ so we just took it to heart (and) didn’t quit,” Storie said, who was was named tournament MVP at the conclusion of the game. “We didn’t want it to end not going anywhere else.”

The team now heads for the American Legion Northwest Regional Tournament, held this year in Missoula, Montana, from Aug. 2-6.

Storie started at pitcher for the second time on Saturday. Before long though, after just four outs, Storie sunk back to where he was most comfortable, shortstop. Collins took over at pitcher and instantly assumed the mentality of the starting pitcher role — he went the next six and two-thirds innings.

Juneau got off to a shaky start in the first inning. Service’s first three batters walked or singled, and before Juneau could record their first out of the game, Service scored a run. Post 25 would get out of the inning thanks to a 6-4-3 double play.

The Cougars wouldn’t score again in the final eight innings however, a testament to Post 25’s defense and will to win the championship.

“Like halfway through the second game, my legs were Jell-O,” Storie said. “The coaches, as the smart guys they are, just bought us a bunch of Mountain Dews, so all the guys that were playing by the seventh inning were drinking Mountain Dews trying to get a second wind.”

Storie paced Juneau’s offense with two of his tournament-high 11 hits in the final game. He was responsible for batting in Juneau’s go-ahead run in the fifth inning, shooting a single into left field.

With his team leading 3-1, Kasey Watts came in to close the game in the ninth inning. He walked his first batter, but Andrew Jaidinger grounded in to a double play and Carsen Sandau lined out to Storie to end the game.

The celebration had begun. Teammates embraced each other in the infield, tossing their mitts as if they were graduation caps at a commencement ceremony.

“This isn’t just for the team here,” Storie said of the championship. “This is for everyone that came before us, all the older kids when I was a youngin’ on the team.”

In each of the previous four postseasons, Post 25 finished third in the tournament.

A comeback to remember

Earlier in the afternoon, it looked like Juneau wouldn’t even get the opportunity to play for the state title. They trailed by four runs to South Post 4 in the play-in game.

In the eighth inning though, Juneau’s bunting, heads-up base running and a never-say-die attitude brought the squad back from the dead. Juneau went on to win the game in the 11th inning, 6-5.

A wild eighth inning that resulted in four Juneau runs began with a Collins’ lead off single. He stole second and third bases shortly thereafter. Storie’s follow-up bunt did its job and more. Collins came in to score Juneau’s first run in five innings and Storie grabbed two extra bases on a throwing error. Several more bunts, superb base running and costly throwing errors by South tied the gave at 5-5.

The Juneau comeback was on in earnest.

“No one gave up that game and we came in to the next game with a good attitude of, ‘Let’s play one more game, and we’re state champs,’” Collins said.

The game went in to extra innings before Juneau broke through — again. MVP Storie hit a one-out single, and eventually came around to score on Bryce Swofford’s walk-off grounder.

Swofford already had a big game up to that point — he made his first pitching appearance of the season earlier, going three innings in relief while quieting South’s offense.

Rewriting history

The team has made the state tournament every year since 2013, when American Legion baseball returned to the Capital City for the first time in over a decade. The squad was 10-8 in tournament games prior to this season, and always one win away from the championship game. Post 25 settled for third place each year.

To prevent that same fate from happening again this year, Juneau had to go through two teams that have eliminated Post 25 from the tournament in recent history: South and Service.

South eliminated Juneau in 2013 and Service did so last year.

It’s Juneau’s first state title at the summer tournament in nearly four decades. Post 25 won back-to-back championships in 1983 and 1984.

Storie led the state tournament with 11 hits while batting just under .500 to make the case for tourney MVP.

He was given the Gold Glove award at last year’s tournament.

“My goal was just to get Gold Glove again, honestly, but I’ll settle for MVP,” Storie said.



• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or



More in Sports

A roadside daisy displays a fasciated center. (Photo by Deana Barajas)
On the Trails: An odd plant malady, a clever duck, and more

I recently learned about a mysterious, relatively rare affliction of plants called… Continue reading

Juneau’s Jacob Thibodeau (right) takes a selfie with WSOP legend Phil Hellmuth in the background. (Photo provided by Alaska Sports Report)
Juneau’s Jacob Thibodeau and Mario Fata consistently cashing in at World Series of Poker

Anchorage pro Adam Hendrix remains Alaska’s most prominent poker player, but don’t… Continue reading

Heidi Reifenstein reaches Father Brown’s Cross to complete the Goldbelt Tram-Mount Roberts Trail Run on Saturday, setting a new women’s record for the 3½-mile race with a time of 37 minutes and 40 seconds. (Photo by Jeff Gnass)
A mother of a mountain: Heidi Reifenstein sets new women’s record for Goldbelt Tram-Mount Roberts Trail Run

Longtime Juneau resident returns to peak form after taking break from racing while raising kids.

After a morning hike, a satisfying breakfast for under $20 hits the spot. (Photo by Jeff Lund)
I Went to the Woods: Food for thought

To my left is a man with a thick British accent who… Continue reading

The Nogahabara Sand Dunes in the Koyukuk Wilderness Area west of Koyukuk River. (Keith Ramos / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Alaska Science Forum: Mystery of the glass tool kit in the sand

From space, the Nogahabara Dunes are a splotch of blond sand about… Continue reading

A bumblebee pollinates the flower of shy maiden, which will turn upward soon afterward. (Photo by Bob Armstrong)
On the Trails: Flowers, showy and otherwise

The spring and summer flower show at Cowee Meadows (way out on… Continue reading

Athletes compete in a swim event at the Dimond Park Aquatic Center on Sept. 16, 2023. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
My Turn: It’s OK to say an athlete failed at obtaining a goal

During the telecasts of the 2024 Olympic trials commentators stated that around… Continue reading

A brush turkey on a mound the size of a car ( photo by Doug Beckers /CC-BY-SA-2.0)
On the Trails: Nest-building by male birds

Most birds build some sort of nest where the eggs are incubated.… Continue reading

Insects like these flies clinging to a tent seem to be in ample supply in Alaska’s boreal forest. (Photo by Ned Rozell)
Alaska Science Forum: Insects of Alaska forest humming along

Recent long-term studies revealed a three-quarters reduction of insects in parts of… Continue reading

An estimated 185 people, many dressed in unconventional attire for running or walking, take off from the starting line outside Centennial Hall during the Only Fools Run At Night on Friday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Juneau revives its summer solstice spirit with Only Fools Run At Night

Runners and walkers in madcap costumes fill downtown streets as race returns after six-year absence.

Lydia Jacoby, Alaska’s gold-medal swimmer, announced Tuesday she is withdrawing from the U.S. Olympic Trials. (Alaska Sports Report photo)
P.J. Foy does not advance, Lydia Jacoby withdraws from U.S. Olympic swimming trials

First-ever Juneau swimmer to compete in trials finishes 49th among 61 competitors Friday.

Trout Unlimited's Matt Boline holds a container with coho fry for official documentation of anadromous fish use in an unnamed creek in the vicinity of Juneau. (Photo by Jeff Lund)
I Went to the Woods: Survey says…

Our floatplane cleared the notch in the snowy ridge then turned slightly… Continue reading