The Gastineau Channel Little League Major Softball all-stars pose with a state championships banner after defeating Anchorage’s Abbott-O-Rabbit, 7-5, to win the state championship on Saturday, July 14, 2018, at Melvin Park. (Nolin Ainsworth | Juneau Empire File)

The Gastineau Channel Little League Major Softball all-stars pose with a state championships banner after defeating Anchorage’s Abbott-O-Rabbit, 7-5, to win the state championship on Saturday, July 14, 2018, at Melvin Park. (Nolin Ainsworth | Juneau Empire File)

Juneau bests Montana in West Regional tournament

Win advances team to Wednesday’s quarterfinals

Kiah Yadao recorded 10 strikeouts and Juneau avoided elimination from the Little League West Region Softball Tournament on Tuesday in San Bernardino, California.

The Gastineau Channel Little League team took down Billings Heights National Little League (Montana) with a 2-1 win at Al Houghton Stadium. Tristan Oliva scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the fifth inning and Yadao and Jenna Dobson took it from there. Yadao struck out Evija Cagle and Dobson made two outs in the top of the sixth to end the game.

Oliva drew two walks and Ruby Davis went 1-for-2 to lead Juneau, who was held to two hits.

The team now moves on to the quarterfinals on Wednesday at 3 p.m. against the loser of Tuesday evening’s game between Pendleton, Oregon or Kirkland, Washington. Both teams presented challenges to the teams they’ve faced so far in the tournament. Oregon shutout Wyoming and Idaho, 23-0 and 24-0, respectively, in the first two days of tournament action. Likewise, Washington won its first two games by double digits, including a 15-1 victory over Juneau on Saturday afternoon.

Juneau turned its fortunes around two days later, plating 11 runs in the first inning in a 17-2 win over Boise, Idaho. Dobson and Mila Hargrave each tallied two RBIs and Jack Lovejoy threw a three-inning no-hitter for Juneau. Idaho suffered from seven errors in the game.

The team then had less than 24 hours to prepare for Montana, who was coming off a win over Wyoming.

After 1 1/2 scoreless innings, Davis came home on a wild pitch before Montana’s Maeli Lawrence’s RBI single tied the game in the fourth.

Juneau would regain the lead in the next inning though. Oliva led off with a walk and stole second on the first pitch to Amira Andrews. Oliva advanced on Andrews’ groundout and came home on Saelyr Hunt’s shallow popup that dropped between the pitcher and first baseman.

Abbagail Zavala led off the top of the sixth with a walk but was held up at third base as Yadao and Dobson retired the next three batters.

Seven teams remain in the tournament as of late Tuesday morning: Northern California, Arizona, Utah, Southern California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska.

Juneau went 1-3 at the regional tournament last year. The team lost its pool play games to Northern California and Utah. It won its first game of bracket play against Montana before falling in the quarterfinals against Washington.

• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.

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