Anchorage, Alaska (KINY) - The Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé Crimson Bears diamond boys defeated the Eagle River Wolves 6-4 in the third place game of the ASAA/First National Bank of Alaska State Baseball Tournament on Saturday at Anchorage’s Mulcahy Stadium Field.
The Crimson Bears had lost in the semifinals on Friday to South Anchorage 11-7. South defeated Colony 19-0 on Saturday for the state championship.
“I told them before the game that yesterday against South was not the outcome that they wanted but they needed to flush that game and they had a new game today,” Juneau-Douglas coach Chad Bentz said. “It’s our last one together and we just have to go out there and do what we do and enjoy the time we still have together. Enjoy our last game together.”
The Crimson Bears enjoyed the field with four runs in the third inning after Eagle River had taken a two to zero lead in the second inning.
Sophomore Caden Mesdag singled in classmate Kaleb Campbell and junior Porter Nelson, and senior Christian Ludeman hit a fielder’s choice that scored Mesdag and junior Gavin Millard.
Mesdag would score again in the bottom of the fifth inning on a wild pitch and in the bottom of the sixth he singled to score Nelson.
“We started a little sluggish at first,” Bentz said. “It’s hard to do when you lose a big game and you are tired and emotionally drained, it is hard to recover. We did a good job of coming out and doing what we had to do to win the game and that was nice to see. I am real proud of those guys. I am proud of how the team carried themselves.”
The Crimson Bears carried themselves well enough through the tournament to be selected for the Team Sportsmanship Award.
“I was told that hands down the umpires decided that,” Bentz said. “That our guys were respectful and conducted themselves in a classy way. And I am really proud of that as well. I have always told the guys if we go anywhere we represent our school and community, whether we are in the airport or on the ball field, so we are respectful. So I am very proud of them for that, just as much for how well they played.”
Mesdag led the Crimson Bears with three RBI and Ludeman had two.
Mesdag and Nelson had two hits apiece, Millard, freshman Lamar Cabrigas-Blatnick, Ludeman, senior Olin Rawson and Campbell one each.
“We definitely got some experience in for the younger players,” Bentz said.
Senior Garrett Bryant and junior Porter Nelson were selected to the All-State Tournament team.
“Garrett pitched his butt off to get us into the semifinal game,” said Bentz. “Porter always plays a solid centerfield and he had some clutch at-bats. They had great seasons and it was well deserved. Olin Rawson had a really solid tournament at the plate, even when he was out he was squared up and hitting the ball all over the place. Kaleb is going to be a player, he’s very smooth. Gavin had a great defensive game today, he made at least six plays today and I was happy to see him smile. There were a lot of heavy eyes today. It is tough to come back from a game like we had against South because, not only is it a physical drain, it is probably even more emotionally draining.”
Mesdag and Nelson scored two runs apiece, Millard and Campbell one apiece.
Mesdag earned two walks and Millard one, and Mesdag and Nelson had one stolen base apiece.
“Some days things don’t go your way,” Bentz said. “And that was the case for us last night (Friday) but today we beat a really good ball club. We were just happy to get a win today and finish the season on a win.”
Ludeman threw 5.2 innings against the Wolves, allowing just six hits and striking out five Eagle River hitters and walking five.
Rawson relieved for 1.1 innings and allowed two hits and struck out one.
“Christian pitched a great game and when he got tired Olin came in and I couldn’t have been happier,” Bentz said. “They have been playing together since they were ten years old and Olin was able to come in an throw strikes to get out of a jam and get the save for us.”
Said Bentz, “It was a great season and I am really proud of the guys. How hard they worked and prepared. In baseball you can prepare all you want and some plays just happen and they just don’t go your way and things happen. And it is really unfortunate. That is what makes baseball so great and so horrible at the same time.”
Above - Juneau-Douglas junior Gavin Millard connects on a pitch against Eagle River. Below - Juneau-Douglas senior first baseman Olin Rawson snares a high throw to put out Eagle River junior Aiden Lower. (A slideshow of photos will be available soon)