Henry Helgeson homers to help Service win another close one at state baseball tournament

Henry Helgeson smashed a two-run homer and pitchers Hutton Stiles and Sean Giffen combined for a two-hitter Saturday to lift the Service Cougars to their second straight one-run victory at the American Legion state baseball tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

Helgeson homered and doubled in the 3-2 win over the Juneau Midnight Suns.

In other games, Eagle River scored six times in the fourth inning to coast past Chugiak 10-3 and Ketchikan tripped Palmer 9-3.

The games came on the third day of pool play at the eight-team tournament. Semifinals are Monday and the championship game is Tuesday.

Service 3, Juneau 2

Two big hits from Henry Helgeson and a game-inning strikeout from Sean Giffen with the potential tying run at second base carried the Cougars.

Helgeson’s two-run homer gave Service a 2-0 lead after one inning, and he and Coen Niclai hit back-to-back doubles in the fifth to make it 3-1.

Isaiah Nelson singled to lead off the bottom of the seventh for Juneau and advanced to second and third on consecutive groundouts. Service issued an intentional walk to slugger Christian Ludeman, bringing up Oliver Mendoza with two out and runners on the corners.

A wild pitch by Giffen scored Nelson and put Ludeman on second base, but Giffen ended the drama by striking out Mendoza on a full-count pitch.

Service starter Hutton Stiles allowed one hit in five innings, striking out six and walking seven. Giffen gave up one hit in two innings.

Nelson pitched six innings for Juneau, allowing five hits and striking out five.

Eagle River 10, Chugiak 3

Stefan Retzklaff hit a two-run double to highlight Eagle River’s six-run third inning.

The first eight batters reached base for the Wolves that inning and six of them scored. Eagle River batted around and out 10 of 12 batters on base; six scored, three were left on base and one was caught stealing.

Luke Barch struck out five in 3 2/3 shutout innings, went 1 for 2 at the plate and scored twice.

Chugiak scored all of its runs in the final two innings after falling behind 7-0. Jayden Steckel was 2 for 3 with one run and one RBI.

Ketchikan 9, Palmer 3

Dylan Nedzwecky drove in three runs and Terek Brown scored three times to spark Ketchikan.

Nedzwecky belted a two-run single in Ketchikan’s four-run third inning and Brown smashed a leadoff triple to ignite a three-run sixth inning.

The Kings racked up nine hits. Leading the attack was Brown (2 for 3) and Isaac Romano (2 for 4 with two RBIs).

Ketchikan pitcher Hayden McGarrigan scattered five hits in six-plus innings to take the win. Landon Guggenmos gave up six runs on five hits while fanning six in five innings for Palmer.

Thursday’s games

Palmer 3, Dimond 2 (12 innings)

Eagle River 13, Service 1

Juneau 3, Chugiak 0

South 5, Ketchikan 1

Friday’s games

Service 7, Chugiak 6

Ketchikan 7, Dimond 3

South 18, Palmer 7

Saturday’s results

Eagle River 10, Chugiak 3

Ketchikan 9, Palmer 3

Service 3, Juneau 2

Sunday’s games

2 p.m. — Eagle River vs. Juneau

5:30 p.m. — Dimond vs. South

Monday’s games

1:15 p.m. — Semifinal

4:30 p.m. — Semifinal

Tuesday’s game

5:30 p.m. — Championship

Correction: An early version of this story incorrectly said Service clinched a semifinal spot. It has not. Semifinal spots will be determined Sunday during the final two games of pool play.