As one of the Juneau Post 25’s best power hitters, Bobby Cox is known more for racking up doubles and triples than stolen bases.
However, when coaches, teammates and fans recall Sunday’s 4-3 win by Juneau over Kenai Post 20 at the American Legion state tournament, it will be likely be the Cox’s speed — not hitting — that’s remembered.
Cox scored the game-winning run in the sixth inning of the afternoon game at Mulcahy Stadium in Anchorage. After getting on base, Cox stole second base and came around to score on Oliver Mendoza’s RBI single. Mendoza’s hit didn’t travel particularly deep into the outfield, but Cox still managed to beat the throw to home by a fair margin.
“The only thing going through my mind was I know I needed to score, I had to score,” Cox said. “If I didn’t score, then we wouldn’t have took the lead and the game would’ve gone to extra innings most likely. We needed those runs. We needed that one run.”
Juneau now plays Chugiak Post 33 on Monday afternoon in another elimination game.
“Our veterans stepped up to the plate, put the team on their shoulders and brought us to victory,” Juneau coach Joe Tompkins said.
Juneau pitcher Donavin McCurley threw a complete game, allowing eight hits and five walks while striking out four. Kenai pitcher Mose Hayes also went the distance, allowing four hits and five walks.
Several ill-timed Juneau errors helped Kenai tie the game in the fifth inning. The Midnight Suns made two errors — both at first base — that allowed Hayes and Seth Adkins to score two runs. Then, with the bases loaded, Jacob Boze hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score a third run.
But those errors were largely overshadowed by Juneau’s otherwise strong defense the rest of the game.
“We went with a pretty tough infield and I knew that it would make a difference because with everybody scouting, (if) we throw them something different, they’re not used to it,” Tompkins said.
First- and second-round losses pushed Juneau and Kenai to the verge of elimination on Sunday. Juneau beat West 2-1 in the first round but lost to Chugiak 13-5 the second round; Kenai fell to South 8-5 on Friday before routing Dimond 11-0 on Saturday.
South 6, West 5 (loser out)
Juneau 4, Kenai 3 (loser out)
Wasilla 1, Chugiak 0 (winner’s bracket semifinals)