In a game where both starting pitchers were rolling early, finding any breaks were key.
Juneau-Douglas High School won 6-0 over Sitka in the winner’s bracket side of the Region V Southeast Baseball Tournament Friday afternoon at Moller Field in Sitka. JDHS will now play for the region championship Saturday.
With two JDHS runners on base, Luke Mallinger lifted a fly ball to the outfield; due to fielding error, Michael Cesar and Kasey Watts both scored. Mallinger came home on an RBI-groundout by Riley Griffin later in the inning.
JDHS coach Chad Bentz said it took a while for his team to get going but being able to score on mistakes helped loosen the team back up.
“We started off slow and actually both teams did,” Bentz said in phone interview Friday. “Sitka’s outfielders made mistakes and we were able to take advantage of them.”
With the lead, JDHS starting pitcher Watts was able to find his comfort zone. He threw a shutout, allowing only one hit, five walks while racking up five strikeouts. Watts said he did not have his best stuff, he only struggled in one inning. In the second inning, he loaded the bases on three walks but was able to record a key strikeout and a lineout to get out of trouble. He also helped himself out by picking off two baserunners.
“In the second inning I walked a couple batters and just couldn’t get my curveball working,” Watts said. “Fortunately, I was able to get out of that inning and was able to battle the rest of the way. Once we got some runs, that really took the weight off my shoulders. I was able to work in some new stuff and that definitely helped me relax.”
The Crimson Bears were able to add to the lead in the fifth off of a Cesar two-run home run. They finished up the scoring in the sixth after an error in the outfield allowed Cesar to come around and score. Cesar went 2-for-3 with two RBI and two runs. Donavin McCurley, Watts, Mallinger and Griffin all scored.
“(JDHS) capitalized on a couple big errors and we never were able to get out of it,” Sitka coach Ken Carley said.
Sitka starting pitcher Camden Suarez was the victim of some hard luck as three defensive errors contributed to the scoring. Suarez went six innings, allowed six runs (three earned) on seven hits and two walks while striking out nine batters. Suarez recorded the lone Sitka hit as well.
Sitka falls into the loser’s bracket and will face the winner of Thunder Mountain High School vs. Ketchikan game at 6 p.m. Friday.
“We definitely have a lot of work to do,” Carley said. “We could not square up the ball today. If you can’t hit the ball, you can’t score runs. We just have to hope the bats come alive.”
JDHS now waits for other results to occur before finding out who they will play at 11 a.m. Saturday.
“We are going to rest up, watch some baseball and enjoy our free time,” Bentz said. “It does not matter who we play. We know the teams and we are not going to worry about. Any team we end up playing will be fun.”
• Contact reporter Gregory Philson at email@example.com or call at 523-2265. Follow him on Twitter at @GTPhilson.