Brock McCormick’s first-inning grand slam fueled a six-run first inning, and Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears defeated the Thunder Mountain Falcons, 12-0, in the first round of the Region V Southeast Baseball Tournament Thursday at Mulcahy Stadium in Sitka.
The two-out grand slam highlighted an inning that started off with Michael Cesar driving in Donavin McCurley. Cesar scored on an RBI-single by Riley Griffin setting the table for McCormick. An error behind third base kept TMHS from getting an easy second out and opened up the scoring for JDHS.
Crimson Bears coach Chad Bentz said getting the offense going early helped the batters gain confidence and eased McCurley’s duties on the mound.
“That was a huge inning for us,” Bentz said. “We took advantage of a few TM mistakes made. We have been focusing on having a plan at the plate and we did a really good job of that.”
With the cushion of a big lead, McCurley cruised through the Falcons’ lineup in his 4 2/3 innings of no-hit ball. He allowed two walks and struck out a pair. Olin Rawson recorded the final out in the five-inning combined no-hitter.
“I always know what I am going to get from Donavin,” Bentz said. “He did a great job of throwing strikes like he normally does and for a pitcher to have a lead like that is huge. He is a competitor and a great player.”
McCurley also got help from his defense, particularly in the fourth inning, when some loose baserunning turned into a wild triple play. Sammy McKnight grounded back to the mound and three rundowns later, all three Thunder Mountain baserunners were cleared off the bases, stopping any chance of a rally.
“That triple-play was probably the biggest play in the game,” Bentz said. “TM was starting to get energy back and we took advantage of some baserunning errors. We had three rundowns and we executed every time.”
JDHS added to its lead in the second as Jacob Dale singled, advanced to second on a passed ball and scored on a Cesar ground ball to right field. Cesar scored on a fielder’s choice after making his way to third on a passed ball. Griffin tacked on a bases-clearing double in the fourth that was part of a four-run frame.
McCormick went 2-for-2 with four RBI. Griffin also tallied four RBI and finished 2-for-3 at the plate. Cesar, Watts and Erik Kelly all scored twice.
Thunder Mountain starting pitcher McKnight allowed 12 runs (six earned) on nine hits and three walks while notching a strikeout in 3 1/3 innings of work.
Thunder Mountain coach Bill McCauley said his team cannot hang their heads and must be ready for a win-or-go-home situation against Petersburg at 9 a.m. Friday.
“Our backs are against the wall and we can’t lose,” McCauley said. “We have to pull ourselves back up and get ready to play well.”
Juneau-Douglas, meanwhile, will face the winner of the Sitka vs. Ketchikan game at noon Friday.
“We are going to try to get into tomorrow’s game right where we left off,” Bentz said. “We are going to make the pitcher work. We are very excited to play whoever we play. If we play like I think we can play, I know we can play anyone in the state.”
• Contact reporter Gregory Philson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 523-2265. Follow him on Twitter at @GTPhilson.