Post 25 showed they could win in any way they needed on Saturday, nicking Chugiak’s Post 33 for two wins and putting Juneau’s American Legion baseball team at 3-1 in league play on the season. Juneau swept Chugiak in a doubleheader on Saturday at the Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park, earning their 6-4 and 11-1 wins with clutch defense and smart baserunning in the first game, and an onslaught of offense in the second.
Juneau 6, Chugiak 4
Juneau dominated the first five innings of the first game, earning a 5-1 lead before Chugiak responded. Starting pitcher Bryce Swofford controlled the game through eight innings pitched with an astonishing 13 strikeouts.
Kasey Watts, who had a great day behind the plate, always feels good when Swofford is on the mound.
“Bryce is the guy you always feel comfortable with when he’s on the mound,” Watts said. “It’s not like, ‘Oh, is he gonna do good or not?’ He’s always hitting his strike and contributing to our wins.”
Though Swofford put the hurt on Chugiak’s offense throughout the game, Post 33 took a bite out of him in the sixth, forcing Juneau to pull out all the stops in the final inning to put Chugiak away.
Zeb Storie and Finn Collins — teammates from Thunder Mountain High School — both made highlight-reel plays in the final inning. Storie stopped a hard grounder to left field and narrowly beat his runner to first with a laser throw from the shortstop position for the first out.
Collins tracked down a deep shot and made a diving catch in center field to put the second out on the board.
“I just saw it hit well off the bat, hustled and gave it my all. I just knew if I got there I could catch it so I just laid out and made the play,” Collins said, adding that the defense is “getting stronger”.
Phillip Wall, who’s developing a reputation as Post 25’s sandman, took the mound for Swofford in the ninth and iced the game by striking out Chugiak’s Kade Lekites to give Juneau the 6-4 win.
Scoring for Post 25 kicked off in the first when Alex Muir hit a two-RBI, hard ground ball single to left field. Michael Cesar then advanced home from second off an error, giving Juneau the 3-0 lead after one inning.
Watts added a score in the third off a wild pitch and hit an RBI single in the fourth to put Juneau up 5-1. Chugiak dug deep in the sixth to claw back a 5-4 scoreline, with Charlie Bucolo hitting a warning track shot to left field and Cody Curfman closing the gap to one run with an RBI line drive double to center field.
Juneau earned their two-run cushion and closed out scoring in the seventh with an RBI double from Storie. Swofford threw 124 pitches for 80 strikes, scattering only four hits.
Watts led from the plate for Juneau, going 2-3 with an RBI while Muir added two RBIs off a 1-4 performance.
Juneau 11, Chugiak 1
Juneau won with their offense in the second game, blasting homers and doubles on their way to an 11-1 lead by the fifth inning. The seven inning game was called in the fifth via the 10-run mercy rule.
Storie went 3-3 at the plate in the game, Stefan Beedle 2-2, Wall 2-3 and Watts 2-4 while Swofford joined the party behind the plate with a homer in the fourth inning.
“It felt good … We did good not letting them get in our heads,” Watts said. “I think after that first pitcher got out, they said ‘We’re done, we have no pitching left,’ and we just showed them what we had.”
A three-run first inning opened scoring for Juneau with RBIs coming from Collins and Beedle. Donovan McCurley added their third off a home plate steal, his second of the day.
“I just saw it. The pitcher wasn’t paying attention, he had a slow windup and was not paying attention, so I had take it.” McCurley said. “I feel really good about our team, we played hard.”
Collins, Swofford, Jake Tanner, Quinn Gist, Beedle and Wall all had RBIs in the game. Chugiak homered for their lone score in the fifth but couldn’t overcome the 10-run gap to keep the game going.
Wall picked up where he left off in the first game, using his changeup and fastball effectively in his five innings pitched. Wall threw 59 pitches for 38 strikes, five strikeouts, one earned run and one hit in the win.