Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé’s defense watched two home runs soar over the outfield fence minutes after the first pitch was thrown to Ketchikan on Friday night at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park.
Luis Mojica, Gaby Soto and Garrett Bryant recorded hits in the 7-2 loss to the Kings, but none that traveled the distance of ones smacked by Ketchikan in the first inning. Seniors Liam Kiffer and Wyatt Barajas, batting second and third in the visiting team’s order, hit back-to-back long balls over the left-field fence to jump out to an early lead that wouldn’t be surrendered.
When he wasn’t hitting home runs, Barajas was throwing fastballs and curveballs on the mound. The senior hurler pitched a complete game for the victors, going seven innings while striking out seven and allowing just four hits.
“The Ketchikan team definitely deserves a lot of credit tonight,” JDHS coach Luke Adams said. “They had the momentum the whole time and we were chasing and they had a big first two innings. They’re a good hitting team — we will definitely make adjustments moving forward on their big hitters.”
JDHS sophomore Christian Ludeman pitched 4 1/3 innings, allowing no hits while striking out six. Ludeman struck out two of the first four batters he faced in the third, and continued to keep the Kings off balance while allowing no earned runs. He was pulled with one out in the top of the seventh, after Kiffer scored on an infield error.
“He gave us everything he had,” Adams said of Ludeman.
The Crimson Bears struggled to drive in runners until the final inning, when Mojica walked and Soto singled to shallow right field. Ludeman, the cleanup batter, drilled the ball off the third baseman’s glove to score both Mojica and Soto.
Ludeman was already dissecting his at-bats within 20 minutes of the game ending, and said his hitting wasn’t where it needed to be.
“I didn’t take batting practice as seriously as I could’ve,” he said. “I felt flat hitting and felt like I was coming down on the ball, chopping at it more than coming (at it) level.”
After scoring three runs in the first inning, the Kings added two more in the second. Azariah Shultz doubled to center field, advanced to third on Kristian Pihl’s bunt and scored on a passed ball. Later, Barajas scored Pihl from third base on an infield error.
Ketchikan came into the series looking for their third conference sweep of the season. The Kings swept a three-game series from Petersburg at home last month before handing Thunder Mountain three losses at the beginning of the month. The Crimson Bears will battle the Kings again on Saturday afternoon at 4 and 7 p.m.
JDHS moved to 5-2 in conference, having swept Petersburg and taken two of three contests against Thunder Mountain. Sitka improved to 5-2 after defeating Thunder Mountain 4-3 earlier in the night.
“Credit to Ketchikan, they’re a good team and they hit the ball really hard,” Adams said. “They’re going to be tough down the road.”
The Region V Baseball Championships will be May 23-25 at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park.
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.