They’re on a twelve-game win streak. They just smoked West in a doubleheader. Their pitching is deep, their bats are hot, and their baserunning is on fire.
With only four games left in their 18-game regular season, Juneau’s American Legion Baseball team is coming together at the best time. To close out their home schedule Saturday, the multifaceted squad from Thunder Mountain and Juneau-Douglas High Schools took two league games 17-4 and 14-1 from West Post 1.
Kasey Watts had the highlight-reel moment in the first game, a three-run homer to right field in the third inning. He led in RBIs with four.
“It was a full count, 3-2, and he hung me a curveball right inside,” Watts said. “That’s my sweet spot, and if he’s gonna hang it, I’m gonna bang it. It’s my first one on this field. I’ve hit the fence like seven times this year, so it’s good to get it over with.”
Finn Collins went 4-4 from the plate in the first game and scored three, leading the team in both hits and runs scored. Donavin McCurley followed Collins in offense, going 2-4 with two runs.
The second game was more of the same, with Juneau jumping on West to the tune of nine runs in the first three innings. They piled on five more in the fourth for a 14-0 lead. Eight players had hits in the game.
Both games were called by the mercy rule in the fifth inning. According to coach Eric McCormick, their key to success was consistency on the mound.
“I think it’s just consistent pitching, throwing strikes and getting ahead of pitchers,” McCormick said. “Our baserunning is stronger. Our first two home stands we had more kids caught stealing than all of last year, so we’ve been focusing on that in practice.”
The boys head to Anchorage for their last four games next week. A one or two seed in the state tournament is in their hands as they only need two wins to control the National Division.
McCormick thinks they just have to keep doing what they’re doing.
“(We have to) keep pitching and play defense, have timely hitting and hopefully we get the momentum into the state tournament. That’s what we’re shooting for,” he said.
After the four-game road trip the boys will head straight into the state tournament without flying back to Juneau. Post 25 will face Kodiak for a doubleheader July 21, Bartlett July 22 and Eagle River July 23.
The state tournament, an eight-team, July 26-30 affair, is a true double-elimination tournament, which will test the depth of every team’s pitching staff. Bryce Swofford has been Post 25’s ace all season while a capable cabal of Watts, McCurley, Phillip Wall, Zeb Storie and Finn Collins have plotted their opponents’ demise from the mound.
“It’s a good problem to have,” McCormick said. “Bryce has been really strong all year. Phillip Wall has come through. Donavin McCurley has been really strong. I think he gave up maybe one earned run all year. Trevor (Perov) stepped up and was strong today. … I think our pitching depth has been our biggest strength.”
• Contact Kevin Gullufsen at email@example.com or call (907) 523-2228.