The Juneau-Douglas High School baseball team came out of hibernation without any sluggishness in a doubleheader against Petersburg High School on Monday night.
JDHS won 8-1 in its first game, and then 14-4 over the Vikings during the second.
“We were in the game the whole time, energy wise,” sophomore first baseman Kasey Watts said. “There wasn’t as much rust as I’ve seen before for the first games of the season.”
The Crimson Bears pitchers controlled the first game. Starter Bryce Swofford, a junior, buried the Vikings with nine strikeouts in five innings. Juneau-Douglas’ coaching staff kept Swofford’s pitch count low, as they hope to use him later this week in Sitka. Swofford was replaced in the fifth by reliever Kasey Watts, who had three strikeouts of his own before the game was over.
JDHS coach Will Race saw a lot of good things out of his team.
“What we did was took advantage of bases-loaded situations,” Race said. “I would say Quin Gist did a great job, this was his first two big starts as a varsity player and he did a fantastic job, hit the ball very well. Bryce (Swofford) did what we were expecting him to do, which was lead the team. He threw very well.”
After allowing a run in the top of the first, Swofford earned JDHS’ first RBI by driving sophomore Michael Cesar in on a double play. Cesar was called home on an errant throw to third.
The Crimson Bears earned a one-run lead in the second inning. In the third they piled on three more as Swofford slapped a two RBI double to right field and Watts drove Swofford in on a double of his own to make the lead 5-1.
JDHS added three more runs in the fourth inning and kept the Vikings scoreless the rest of the game.
Petersburg found more offense in the second game as the mound got a bit chewed up by wear and scattered rainshowers. Without a solid mound to plant off of, both teams had a hard time controlling their pitches as the night wore on.
Senior Vikings pitcher Ethan Bryner kept his team in the second game. Bryner, who came in as relief in the first, was happy with his team’s play, but feels they need some work on the details.
“There are always first-game jitters. This was the first year our outfield was able to catch fly balls, which was cool, and we had good infield defense, and good play at the plate,” Bryner said. “It’s all about building up to regions.”
The Petersburg senior added that, moving forward, they need to work on “the small things: hitting cutoffs, smart base running, executing bunts, knowing the signs. The basics, really.”
The Vikings had a chance to get back in the game in the fifth inning when a couple of walks found the Crimson Bears defending a bases-loaded situation. Petersburg closed the six-run gap to a more manageable four in the inning, but left three base runners on as JDHS sophomore pitcher Erik Kelly closed the inning cooly.
JDHS put the game away in the fifth, loading the bases and piling on six runs before the game was called by the 10-run mercy rule. Crimson Bears pitcher Donovan McCurley was credited the win, pitching through four innings. Both teams played three or more pitchers in the game.
The Crimson Bears head to Sitka this weekend to play in a four-game tournament. On Thursday, JDHS faces South High School, with games against Ketchikan and Sitka High Schools slated for Friday. Based on the results of those games, the third and fourth place teams will play on Saturday at 11 a.m. and the first and second place teams will play at 2 p.m.