Rooting for the home team for Juneau fans was never made easier than on Tuesday night’s high school baseball game featuring cross-town rivals Thunder Mountain High School and Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. While it remained anyone’s game throughout much of the night, it would be the Falcons who prevailed in the end with a 9-6 victory over the Crimson Bears. TMHS head coach Joe Tompkins said while a win is never to be overlooked, they’re never to be over-celebrated either.
“They (JDHS) always come ready to play, so we have to come ready to play and we finally played as a team, and it was very nice to see,” Tompkins said. “This is a very nice win for us and their pitchers are good, so we have to put the bat on the ball, we can’t just swing for the fence.”
After a scoreless first inning, JDHS scored three runs in the top of the second inning after Lamar Blatnick singled with bases loaded, driving in Bodhi Nelson and Finn Kesey. JDHS followed up with another infield hit from Nelson to allow Eli Crupi to score the final run for the Bears in the second. It didn’t take TMHS long, however, to answer back with five runs before a runner between second and third got caught in a pickle, bringing a close to the second inning with TMHS in the lead at 5-3.
TMHS pitcher Liam Hart struck out JDHS’ Joseph Aline for the first out of the third inning, followed by JDHS’ Brandon Casperson stealing first base after a pitch got away from the catcher. JDHS’ Marcus Underwood walked followed by a run by Casperson after a base hit from Kesey. More wild pitches allowed JDHS to steal more bases, which eventually led to JDHS’ Luke Dean scoring, as well, before Crupi struck out followed by Blatnick hitting a deep ball to outfield, which was caught by TMHS’ Kaden Quinto to close the top of the third inning, score tied at 5-5.
TMHS had a quick three-and-out at the bottom of the third with two caught pop flys followed by Aline fielding a ground ball and throwing the third out at first base. Nelson doubled to start off the fourth for JDHS, then stole third, and was driven in by a sacrifice fly from Kaleb Campbell. That gave JDHS a 6-5 lead.
TMHS’ Carson Cummins walked to start off the bottom of the fourth, followed by TMHS’ TJ Womack hitting a deep ball to the outfield, only to have it caught for the first out of the inning. JDHS answered back with a caught pop-up which led to a double play to end the bottom of the fourth with no runs for the Falcons.
In the top of the fifth, JDHS was unable to put runs on the board after a strikeout, a pickoff by TMHS pitcher Owen Woodruff and a flyout from Kesey. The bottom of the fifth is where TMHS started to pull ahead. TMHS’ Madden Mendoza and Rory Hayes were driven in by a base hit from TMHS’ Woodruff. Anderson was called out at first after a bunt, followed by a strike out on Carson to close the inning, 7-6 Falcons lead.
JDHS threatened to score in the top of the sixth, but were kept off the scoreboard after TMHS pulled off an inning-ending double play. Rory Hayes would break the game open for TMHS in the bottom of the sixth, when he drove in two runs with the bases loaded and one out. Scoring were Quinto and Mendoza, who rapped a pair of base hits earlier in the inning. The runs would be the last of the game for TMHS.
The top of the seventh would come and go quickly for the Crimson Bears with a strikeout to start off followed by a Casperson out at first and Kesey out at second.
JDHS head coach Chad Bentz said after the game that the team will have to refocus and improve if they hope to not repeat Tuesday night’s loss.
“We just have to do a better job of preparing, that’s my fault,” Bentz said. “We just need to be prepared and know what we’re going to do with the baseball before it’s hit to us. They (TMHS) were better than us tonight, that’s all there is to it; we need to do better, flush this, move forward and that’s all we can control.”
Next up for the Falcons, they’ll travel to Sitka for two conference games against the Sitka Wolf’s starting on Friday, and JDHS plays Ketchikan High School at 7 p.m. on Friday and 6 p.m. on Saturday at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park.