Juneau claims state baseball title

Jeremy Peters

Juneau's Christian Gould didn't waste a perfect chance to deliver a whipped-cream pie Saturday, nailing teammate Lance Ibesate during a post-game TV interview at Mulcahy Stadium.

"Our pitching coach told us that after the game we were gonna get Lance because he did a lot for us this game," Gould said. "I went back and put the whole can in a towel and got him good."

The prank was Ibesate's reward for drilling four hits, including a fifth-inning grand slam that was part of a seven-run outburst in Juneau's 12-6 win over Ketchikan at the state high school baseball championship.

Ibesate also pitched the first six innings to help the Crimson Bears earn their third state championship in five seasons and their fifth overall.

Juneau led 5-4 when the bottom of the fifth inning arrived, and the Crimson Bears extended the lead to 7-4 before Ibesate stepped to the plate with the bases loaded. Ibesate, who also collected two singles, a triple and two stolen bases to go with six RBIs, unloaded on a pitch from Ketchikan's Brien Auger and the ball sailed over the wall in left-center.

"My coach just told me to do something with the ball, hit it hard," Ibesate said. "It was right down the middle, right where I like it. I knew it was gonna be somewhere out there, but not that far."

The ball cleared the fence by at least 10 feet and Ketchikan center fielder Kenny Hamilton said he knew it was out right away.

The crushing blow just about killed the Kings' spirit, Hamilton said, but they still managed to bounce back and score two runs in the top of the sixth. The defeat elicited mixed emotions for Ketchikan, which was playing in its first state title game.

"It's not good, but it's not bad," said Hamilton, who notched two hits, two RBIs and two runs. "It was fun playing. It's like a Southeast showdown up here in Anchorage and it was awesome."

Ketchikan and Juneau are familiar opponents, having met four times during regular-season Southeast Conference play, but Juneau has held the upper hand.

"We haven't beaten them in three years," Hamilton said.

That lack of success didn't prevent the Kings from starting with a bang. Hamilton led off the game with a sharp base hit and represented the first of two first-inning runs to cross the plate on a Dalton Spear single.

"The leadoff hitter getting on gets everyone all excited," Hamilton said. "Everyone was screaming. It was off the chain."

The lead didn't last long. Juneau tied it in the bottom of the first and pulled ahead 4-2 in the bottom of the second.

The Kings came back with two runs in the top of the fourth to knot the score at 4-4, but Juneau regained the lead on an RBI-single from Kyle Gould in the bottom of the fourth.

"Ketchikan's not a team to sleep on," Ibesate said. "They jumped on me early, props to them for that, but I kept my head in there and trusted my teammates."

Juneau's bats came to life during the three-day tournament play. The Crimson Bears racked 29 runs in three game, and Ibesate said the championship game marked one of their best hitting displays.

"Today, we hit the ball everywhere," he said. "We came through at clutch times and put the ball in play and put pressure on them."

Reach Jeremy Peters at jpeters@adn.com or 257-4335.

ASAA/First National Bank Alaska

State Baseball Championships

At Mulcahy Stadium

All-tournament team

Zane Mileur, Colony; Colton Paulsen, Ketchikan; Rodney Perdue, Lathrop; Ryan Kelly, Juneau; A.J. Hull, Kenai; Jake Ridley, Service; Andy Schaefer, South; Kyle Gould, Juneau; Dalton Spear, Ketchikan; Jackson Lehnhart, Juneau; Nick Silva, Ketchikan; Lance Ibesate, Juneau.

Saturday’s results

Championship — Juneau 12, Ketchikan 6

Third-place — South 7, Service 1

Fourth-place — Lathrop 7, Kenai 4

Anchorage Daily News