Kasey Watts Alaska Baseball Acadey sophomore and Alex Muir hit back-to-back doubles in the ninth inning to lift Juneau Post 25 to victory on opening day of the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament in Logan, Utah.
Juneau posted a 3-2 victory over the Nampa Braves of Idaho to advance in the winner’s bracket of the double-elimination American Legion tournament.
Alaska’s other team, Kenai Post 20, wasn’t as fortunate and lost 14-4 to the Cody Cubs of Wyoming.
Juneau [27-4] got strong pitching, defense and hitting – all the key ingredients to having postseason success.
“Very proud how well they played together in such a close game,” Juneau manager Andy Macaulay told me. “Very proud of my boys.”
Juneau took a 2-0 lead in the third inning after RJ Markovich delivered a two-run double. That scored Jacob Thibodeau and Matt Cunningham, who had both singled.
Former ABA player Nathan Klein was his usually awesome self on the mound and carried a shutout into the seventh inning.
Alaska’s most dominant pitcher, Klein has carved up the competition this year with a 9-1 record and 0.88 ERA. He didn’t factor into the decision, but struck out 13 batters in 6.2 innings of work.
“Nathan dominated the first five innings, then it got real muggy and he started to fade in the seventh,” Macaulay said.
Klein was pulled in favor of R.J. Markovich, also of Alaska Baseball Academy, who pitched 1.1 innings and picked up the win in relief.
Thibodeau closed it out in the ninth for the save.
The three pitchers combined for 17 Ks.
Markovich, who won the Big Stick Award at the state tournament, continued to tear the cover off the ball.
“RJ is still crushing,” Macaulay said. “He hit a shot about 370,380 [feet] to right center only to be robbed by their centerfielder with a ‘SportsCenter’ highlight diving catch.”