Thunder Mountain’s Letasi Fenumiai connects against Sitka at Dimond Park on Thursday, May 9, 2019. Sitka won 2-1. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Thunder Mountain’s Letasi Fenumiai connects against Sitka at Dimond Park on Thursday, May 9, 2019. Sitka won 2-1. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Two walk-offs have this Juneau team’s season on the rise

Wolves still in conference lead

Thunder Mountain High School junior Tasi Fenumiai wasn’t trying to swing for the fences.

With the chance to put Sitka away in the bottom of the sixth inning on Saturday afternoon at Dimond Park, the outfielder knew from experience that that kind of approach doesn’t work against the Wolves, who boast one of Southeast’s top pitchers in Miah Dumag.

“Since yesterday, I’ve been hitting more relaxed with the rest of the team and my hitting’s been doing really well,” Fenumiai said. “That (at-bat), it was just like, ‘Let’s just swing, let’s just try to get a base hit, let’s finish this game.’

“And it was a home run.”

Fenumai hit a walk-off two run homer to right field to send the Falcons (6-5, 4-4 SEC) to a 10-1 win over the Wolves. A game concludes via mercy rule anytime one team falls behind by eight or more runs after the fifth inning. It was the victors’ second walk-off win in as many games: Less than 18 hours earlier on the same diamond, sophomore Mariah Tanuasa Tuvaifale’s triple in the seventh sealed the Falcons’ 10-9 come-from-behind victory over Ketchikan.

“I think the biggest thing was we knew this was a good team and we had to play well,” TMHS coach John Boucher said. “The girls really stepped up in all aspects. Last night’s game was super emotional, too. We came from way back and it was an awesome game.”

The pair of wins stood in stark contrast to Thunder Mountain’s loss to Sitka on Thursday night. The Falcons mustered just six hits — all singles — in the 2-1 defeat. Fenumai went 0-of-2 at the plate.

Sitka drew first blood Saturday, scoring one run in the first. But Thunder Mountain answered immediately in the bottom of the frame as Mariah and Marissa Tanuvasa Tuvaifale, Nina Fenumiai, Sydney Strong and Rileyanna Payne all delivered runs to take a four-run lead.

“In the past when we’ve gotten leads on them or scored, they’ve always answered,” Boucher said. “It’s been like, ‘Punch — counter punch. Punch — counter punch.’ And we stopped the counter. We had some innings (with) multiple runners on and we wiggled out of it, so we held the lead.”

Up 5-1 in the fifth, Mariah Tanuvasa Tuvaifale came up with another clutch hit, hitting a home run, and Kyra Jenkins Hayes followed with an RBI single.

Both teams had one more game left to play on Saturday: TMHS squared off against Ketchikan again, and Sitka took on Juneau-Douglas (1-15, 0-8 SEC) for the second time in three days. The Crimson Bears lost to the Lady Kings 13-0 and 13-3 on Thursday and Saturday, respectively, and fell 11-2 to Sitka in the meantime.

TMHS plays JDHS four times this week to close out the regular season: Monday night at Melvin Park and Friday night and Saturday afternoon and evening at Dimond Park.

Sitka leads the conference with a 7-2 record, one win ahead of Ketchikan at 6-3.

The Region V Softball Championships are slated for May 23-25 in Sitka. The conference hands out two state tournament berths: one to the team with the best conference record, and the other to the winner of the Region V tournament. It’s likely TMHS will have to win out the tournament in order to earn a state tournament berth.

• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.

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