Juneau Post 25 pitcher Gabe Storie was on top of his game in his first-ever start at the American Legion Northwest Regional Tournament on Wednesday morning.
Unfortunately for Storie, who threw four scoreless innings and struck out six, so too was the opposing pitcher Bennett Thompson from Medford, Oregon.
Thompson retired all but one batter to power the Oregon state champion Medford Mustangs (34-23) to a 4-0 shutout win over Juneau (29-6) in the first-round game at Harris Field in Lewiston, Idaho. The five-day tournament is the last stop before the American Legion World Series in Shelby, North Carolina, and includes state championship clubs from Alaska, Oregon, Montana, Washington, Idaho and Wyoming.
“He pitched a heck of a game, I can’t complain,” Juneau coach Joe Tompkins said of Storie. “If our bats are alive then we’re in the game.”
Thompson allowed just one hit, one walk, and rarely fell behind in the count. When he was pulled in the fifth inning, all but a dozen of his 60 total pitches were strikes.
“He didn’t really beat us on velocity, he just beat us on command,” Juneau third baseman Christian Ludeman said.
Oregon held on to a precarious 1-0 lead until the sixth inning, when the Medford club scored two more runs off Darin Morsh’s RBI bunt and Thompson’s sacrifice fly.
For a number of Juneau players, the game marked their first experience at the Northwest Regional Tournament.
“The biggest positive for our guys is to see where they rate and how they do against the Lower 48 guys,” Tompkins said. “That’s the biggest thing about coming down here, whether it’s how much harder you have to work or how much more serious you have to take the game to get good.”
The temperatures on Wednesday in western Idaho were expected to surpass 100 degrees.
Juneau will now face elimination Thursday morning against the loser of Wednesday’s afternoon’s game between Casper Oilers (WY) and Idaho Falls Bandits (ID). The other teams in the tournament include the Bozeman Bucks (MT), Kennewick Outlaws (WA), Lakeside Recovery (WA) and Lewis-Clark Twins (ID).
Listen to the tournament broadcasts by clicking the “950 KOZE Sports” banner on koze.com.
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.