Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Juneau’s Gastineau Channel Little League Majors All-Stars avoided elimination from the Alaska 12-Under state championship series against Eagle River’s Knik Little League with a 6-3 win Sunday at Anchorage’s Abbott-O-Rabbit Fields, drawing to within a game of tying the series. The next game is Monday.
Juneau started swinging right out of the gate with three runs in the top of the first inning.
Micah Nelson and Hunter Carte led off with singles and KB Lim reached on a one-out error that scored Nelson. Carte scored on a passed ball and Lim stole third base. Noah Lewis put a hard hit into left field to score Lim for a 3-0 advantage.
“I think we played really well,” Lewis said. “Especially since we started batting right out of the gate and started scoring runs so we got the confidence to keep playing. Since we won tonight, I think we have the confidence to go win again tomorrow.”
Lewis also was behind the plate catching Carte on the mound, part of the GCLL battery that has been key for the season.
Shortstop Nelson fielded the first out for Juneau, and Carte struck out the next two.
“You have to get your pitcher into the mindset that he has to throw strikes to win,” Lewis said.
Juneau added a run in the top of the second inning as Nelson was hit by a pitch, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on an error.
Carte struck two more batters out in the bottom half and Nelson fielded another out.
Carte got the first two batters in the bottom of the third to go out as well, with Isaac Kirsch catching a fly ball in right and Drew Cadigan-McAdoo fielding a hard grounder at third base and throwing over to Keaton Belcourt at first base. Nelson relieved on the mound and Carte fielded the third out at shortstop.
“I thought that we played really well,” Drew Cadigan-McAdoo said. “We started off on offense with some good hits and some good head’s up base running. And then our pitcher Hunter Carte was pitching really well. Our defense was making the basic plays we need to make for the game. It felt good that we got the win. Now we have the confidence going into the next game. We have the momentum on our side now.”
Juneau put its final two runs across in the top of the fourth inning as Andrew Sanders rapped a single and Brenner Harralson bunted his way on base and Nelson lined a pitch that brought them both home for a 6-0 advantage.
Knik put two runs across in the bottom of the fourth with Bodi Anderson scoring on an Ethan Atkinson single and Atkinson scoring on a Gus Westerlund double to close to 6-2.
Knik had room to put two more runs across but Lim chased down a fly ball in left field for the third out to end the threat.
“We did well,” Lim said. “Our hitting was great at the start of the game. It was still good at the end of the game, too. So was our defense.
Knik would get its final run in the bottom of the fifth as Owen McNeil doubled and scored on a ground out by Gerardo Palomores to trail 6-3.
Juneau shut the bases off in the bottom of the sixth with Carte fielding a pop-up at shortstop, Kirsch striking out the next batter and Parker Katasse fielding a line drive out at third to end the game.
Nelson, Carte, Lim, Lewis, Sanders and Harralson had one hit each. Nelson scored two runs and Carte, Lim, Sanders and Harralson had one run each.
Carte threw 2.2 innings with no hits or runs allowed and struck out four and walked one. Nelson relieved for an inning. Belcourt relieved and struck out one and Kirsch closed and struck out one.
Juneau lost 4-2 Friday and 6-3 Saturday. Monday’s game is at 6 p.m. and an if necessary game is scheduled for Tuesday at 6 p.m.
“Obviously our defense has continued to help us stay in these games but offensively we came alive today,” Juneau coach Jason Katasse said. “We had some big hits from some kids today. We laid down some key bunts. Really just keeping them on their toes, trying to push some bases. It really made the difference for us.”
The winner of the series advances to the Northwest Regional Tournament at San Bernardino, California, Aug. 8-14 with a chance to earn a berth in the Little League World Series at Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Aug. 19-29.