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By DAVE KIFFER
For the Daily News
The Ketchikan High School boys baseball team punched its ticket to the state tournament with a three-game sweep of its arch rival, Juneau-Douglas High School.
After winning 7-6 and 5-1 on Saturday, Kayhi finished with the best regular season record, 11-1, in the conference and gets an automatic bid, no matter what happens in the regional tournament in Sitka in two weeks.
Both of Saturday’s games revolved around pitching, although Kayhi did manage to string together enough hits to take advantage of most of the scoring opportunities it had against the Crimson Bears.
Kayhi 5, Juneau-Douglas 1
In the nightcap, Juneau scored first, in the top of the second. It was the only time JDHS led in the three-game series. Brock McCormick doubled down the left field line. He took third on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Brandon Keeler.
The Kings answered in the bottom of the third inning. With two outs, Kody Malouf got on base on an error and proceeded to steal both second and third. Michael Star walked and stole second. The throw to second ended up in centerfield and Malouf scored the tying run.
Liam Kiffer then doubled to centerfield to score Starr with the go-ahead run.
Kayhi added three insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth. Kiffer and Wyatt Barajas both singled and Tug Olson doubled down the left field line to drive both in. Gavin Salazar then singled to knock in Olson.
Kiffer led Kayhi with two hits, Barajas, Olson, Malouf and Salazar each had one.
Olson started on the mound for Kayhi. He had two strike outs, walked three and gave up four hits. Cody Kemble also pitched for the Kings. He struck out two, walked one and gave up two hits.
McCormick, Keeler, Jacob Dale, Riley Griffin and Kane Ginter all hit safely for Juneau.
Olin Rawson started for Juneau-Douglas. He struck out three and walked three. Brandon Keeler also pitched for the Crimson Bears.
Kayhi 7, Juneau-Douglas 6
The afternoon game on Saturday appeared to be headed toward an easy Kayhi victory until Juneau scored four runs in the top of the seventh to tie the score, forcing the Kings to scratch out a run in the bottom of the seventh to get the win.
Kayhi got on the board first in the bottom of the second when Tug Olson doubled to center field and scored on a single by Cody Kemble. Kemble then scored when James Nordlund grounded into a fielder’s choice but the throw to first was errant.
Kayhi added a run in the third. Michael Starr grounded the ball to first, and was called out but after an lengthy umpire conference he was ruled safe. Liam Kiffer then hit a weak grounder that was bobbled to put two runners on. Wyatt Barajas then grounded into a double play, but Starr scored.
Kayhi scored again the the fourth when Nordlund doubled, took third on a sarifice fly and scored when Kody Malouf dribbled a seeing-eye single through the infield.
Kayhi loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth, after Kiffer reached on an error and
Barajas and Olson singled. Gavin Salazar walked to bring in Kiffer from third. But Riley Griffin came in to pitch for the Bears and retired the next two Kayhi hitters.
Juneau-Douglas got on the board in the sixth when Griffin walked and scored when Kacey Watts got on with a three-base error. Brock McCormick then doubled Watts home.
Kayhi got one run back in the sixth when Starr singled and scored when Barajas hit a 340-foot single off the wall in deep right center field.
But Juneau stormed back with four runs in the top of the seventh. Luis Mojica walked, Jacob Dale hit into a fielder’s choice, but Kayhi threw the ball away and both runners were safe. Kasey Watts hit a sharp single but the ball was misplayed and both runners scored and Watts wound up on third. McCormick walked and stole second. Brandon Keeler singled and both runners scored.
Kayhi scored the winning run in the bottom of the seventh. Cody Kemble led off with a single. Juneau then intentionally walked both Salazar and Nordlund to load the bases and set up a force play at home. Azariah Schultz then worked a full count and fouled off four-straight pitches before he walked to force in Kemble with the winning run.
Olson, Kemble and Barajas each had two hits. Nordlund, Malouf, Kiffer and Michael Starr also hit safely for Kayhi.
Watts, McCormick, Rae Razor and Keeler hit safely for Juneau.
Barajas, Olson and Gabe Bowlen pitched for the Kings. Barajas struck out five and walked four. Bowlen struck out one and walked two. Olson struck out one and walked one.
Ketchikan was helped by strong defense with Malouf, Salazar and Starr making spectacular plays to rob Juneau hitters.
Kayhi has the next weekend off and will go to Sitka for the regional tournament May 24-26.
The Kayhi JV Baseball team had a successful weekend, taking two out of three games from its Juneau-Douglas counterparts.
Saturday, the Kings rode a seven-run sixth inning to a 13-6 win over the Crimson Bears. Korbin Stack had two hits for Kayhi; CJ Paule, Philip Smith, Kristian Pihl, Alex Malouf, Devin Dalin and McKinley Hamilton each had one. Hamilton, Joshua Gentry, Luke Murdock, Tyler Slick and Isaac Romano pitched for Kayhi.
On Friday, the Juneau JVs took the opening game, 4-1. Paule had three hits for Kayhi and Isaac Romano had two. Paule, CJ Jasper and Stack took the mound.
The Kayhi JVs took the second match on Friday, 2-0, as Pihl pitched a seven-inning, three-hit shutout over the Crimson Bears. Romano, Dalin, Murdock, Pihl, Smith, Jasper and James Nordlund had hits for Kayhi.