There is no chill in the Juneau Post 25 Midnight Suns.
They don’t let up; they don’t give up. They get up for all opponents and usually put them down.
Juneau has emerged as the state’s premier Legion Baseball program over the last three seasons, carving up the competition to the tune of an 85-14 record, including a staggering 83-9 mark against Alaska teams.
The Midnight Suns last week won their third straight state championship to become just the third program to three-peat in the 67-year history of the state tournament, joining Anchorage dynasties East (2003-2006) and West (1964-1968).
The state championship clinched Juneau’s third consecutive trip to the Northwest Regional Tournament, a Legion World Series qualifier that begins Wednesday morning in Lewiston, Idaho.
Juneau (29-5) will face Oregon’s Medford Mustangs (33-23) in the first round.
Last year the Midnight Suns finished 1-2 at the Northwest Regional, with their 13-9 victory over the Missoula (MT) Mavs serving as the first for the state of Alaska since 2009, ending a long and painful 19-game losing streak.
Alaska has never won a Northwest Regional title and remains one of only four states nationwide (New Mexico, Vermont, Wyoming) to have never sent a team to the Legion World Series.
If there was an Alaska team capable of shattering the glass ceiling at the Northwest Regional, it’s the Midnight Suns.
They are the most complete team in the state, checking all the boxes for hitting, pitching, fielding, baserunning and coaching.
Juneau is a five-tool program.
The team has averaged 8.8 runs per game, thanks to a .317 team batting average and .443 team on-base percentage. The team ERA is 3.01 and the team fielding percentage is .938. The team has 91 stolen bases on 106 attempts for an 86% success rate.
Coach Joe Tompkins is a three-time Alaska Legion Coach of the Year and manager Jeremy Ludeman shared the top coaching honors with Tompkins in 2018.
Individually, Juneau is loaded with talent, depth and experience. But Bobby Cox is the engine that powers the offensive.
The 6-foot-1, 240-pounder wears the triple crown with a .459 batting average, two home runs and 37 RBIs. He also leads the team with 14 doubles, four triples and 38 runs.
Cox won the Big Stick Award at last week’s state tournament.
Other hitting leaders are Christian Ludeman (.402), Brock McCormick (.357), Gabe Storie (.344) and Kona Ogoy (.333).
Storie hit .350 with three RBIs and eight runs in addition to throwing a five-hit shutout against No. 1 Wasilla en route to being named Most Valuable Player at the state tournament — the same honor his brother Zeb won in 2017.
The Juneau pitching earned-run leaders are Storie (1.29), McCormick (1.69) and Donavin McCurley (1.96), who have combined to win 14 of 15 decisions. Cox, Ludeman and Olin Rawson have also pitched well and provided extra arms during a five-day tournament.
More about Medford
The Medford Mustangs extended their record of consecutive Oregon Legion state championships to six with a 5-4 victory over the Eugene Challengers in the championship game in Klamath Falls, Oregon.
The Mustangs, who were six games below .500 on June 29 with a 9-15 record, caught fire in the month of July with 24 wins in 31 games.
Medford has captured 14 of the past 29 Oregon state titles and 17 in all.
The Mustangs return to the Northwest Regional for the sixth straight year.
• Van Williams is the Alaska Legion Media Director and works for the Alliance for Support of American Legion Baseball in Alaska. This piece is republished here with permission.