Sitka nearly walked its way to an improbable comeback at the Region V baseball tournament on Thursday.
Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé pitchers suddenly lost the ability to find the strike zone in the sixth inning of Thursday’s first-round game. A total of three JDHS pitchers walked seven straight Wolves to quickly turn a six-run lead into a one-run lead.
JDHS coach Luke Adams could only smile and shake his head after the game as he reflected on the inning.
“We have a very young team,” Adams said. “Those kids that came in to pitch, they all have not been in a lot of those situations, especially this year. We tried to find the right guy for the moment, and that happened to be Olin again.”
Sophomore pitcher Olin Rawson walked two of the four batters he faced, but started a double play on a comebacker to put the rally to bed.
The Bears ended up hanging on, beating Sitka 6-5 and earning a spot in the tournament’s semifinals Friday. They play the winner of Thursday night’s Ketchikan-Petersburg game at 1:30 p.m. Friday.
At the plate, the bottom of the lineup did most of the damage for the Bears. The No. 6-9 batters scored all six of JDHS’ runs. Carter Walker scored three times and No. 9 batter Luis Mojica has three RBIs and a key sacrifice bunt that helped lead to two more. Mojica said the team’s lineup has changed a few times this season and players are comfortable batting just about anywhere.
“We have a really strong lineup,” Mojica said. “We can be interchanged anywhere. We can move anywhere in the lineup and still have that ability to play.”
Mojica said having the Region V tournament in Juneau has been a boost to the team’s confidence.
“The crowd’s amazing, the energy is awesome,” Mojica said. “It’s just a miracle, being able to play at home.”
Thunder Mountain heads to losers’ bracket
Petersburg starting pitcher Thomas Durkin almost single-handedly sent Thunder Mountain to the losers’ bracket in the Region V baseball tournament Thursday morning.
Durkin scored twice and allowed just one run in seven innings pitched Thursday, outscoring the Falcons 2-1 on his own in Petersburg’s 4-1 victory over Thunder Mountain at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park. The Falcons are set to play Sitka at 10 a.m. Friday.
For Thunder Mountain coach Bill McCauley, it was an unfortunately familiar sight.
“That pitcher beat us in Petersburg and he beat us here, same pitcher,” McCauley said. “Hat’s off to Petersburg, hat’s off to their pitcher Durkin.”
Durkin allowed four hits and struck out eight over his seven innings of work on the rainy morning in Juneau. McCauley attributed Durkin’s success to his accuracy and particularly his ability to locate his breaking ball.
In the first inning, Durkin looked anything but dominant, but the Falcons bailed him out with a key baserunning gaffe. The first four Falcons batters reached, with leadoff hitter Bryson Echiverri starting the game with a triple down the right-field line. He came around to score on a Logan Lesman single.
Thunder Mountain eventually had runners on second and third with one out in the first, looking to add to its early advantage. Isaiah Nelson hit a shallow fly ball to center field, and both runners trotted too far away from their base while waiting to see if the ball would drop. Viking centerfielder Brekin Davis caught the ball and then quickly threw to second base to double off Falcon runner Chris San Nicolas.
McCauley was unhappy, to say the least.
“We have a bad habit of running ourselves out of rallies and running ourselves out of games,” McCauley said after the game. “We did that right there.”
Lesman, who pitched a complete game for the Falcons, said that the team’s offense wasn’t able to get it back together after that double play in the first. He had two hits and the team’s sole run batted in, and allowed four runs on four hits. He struck out six and handed out five walks.
The team’s lack of success at the plate was unusual Thursday, Lesman said.
“Our bats were just off today, and I haven’t been seeing a lot of that lately,” Lesman said. “It was surprising.”
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.