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By SPENCER GLEASON
Daily News Sports Editor
A day after walking 13 Service Post 28 batters in Ketchikan Post 3’s 10-5 nonconference win on Friday, Ketchikan turned to their own No. 13 on Saturday to start their first American Legion conference baseball game of the year.
Cody Kemble took the ball in Game 1 of Post 3’s doubleheader against Service and his No. 13 jersey brought a little luck for the hometown team at Walker Field.
“I try to have confidence and tell myself, ‘I’m better than anybody up there,’” Kemble said. “And usually it works out in my favor. If I don’t believe that, then I’m not going to succeed at all.”
Kemble tossed six innings of one-run baseball in Game 1, striking out four Service batters and walking only three. Post 3 won the first game of the twin bill, 2-1.
“Cody pitched amazing today,” Ketchikan head coach Johnny Milner said. “The pitch count got to him; otherwise, he closes that out.”
But Kemble wasn’t done. And after tossing 99 pitches, he smacked a two-run home run in the fifth inning of Game 2 and a two-run double in the seventh inning to give Post 3 an 8-6 lead. Ketchikan would eventually win the second game, 9-6.
“I got a 2-0 count and told myself, ‘I’m just going to swing for the fences and it happened,’” Kemble said of the home run.
The two-game conference sweep on Saturday gave Post 3 a rarity against Service – a team that placed in the top three in last summer’s state tournament. Ketchikan would drop Sunday’s nonconference contest against Service, 21-8, to start the season with a 3-1 record.
“That’s huge,” Milner said of Saturday’s sweep. “Service is a great program. They don’t give up two very often.”
First conference win
Game 1 remained scoreless until the bottom of the third. Liam Kiffer worked a two-out walk and Wyatt Barajas cranked a double to the left-centerfield fence, scoring Kiffer from first base.
“That was great base running,” Milner said. “That’s tough. You have to be moving. With two outs, he’s going on the crack of the bat. And Wyatt smoked that to the deepest part of the field.”
After Service tallied a run in their half of the sixth, to tie the game, 1-1, Post 3 rallied back.
CJ Jasper singled a bloop hit to shallow centerfield and he would score on a dropped ball at first base, off the bat of Brock King.
With two outs, Milner waved Jasper home as he rounded third base and the move paid off. The dropped ball and King’s hustled down the line allowed Jasper to score the go-ahead run from second base, giving Ketchikan their eventual 2-1 win.
“CJ is the fastest kid on our team, so you want him coming around the bases in that situation,” Milner said.
Kiffer entered the game on the hill in the seventh and was rewarded with the save.
“The boys played a great game today,” Milner said after the Game 1 victory.
Second verse, same as the first
Post 3 carried their momentum over from Game 1 into Game 2, jumping out to a 4-0 lead. Ketchikan’s first four batters – King, Gavin Salazar, Kiffer and Barajas – got on base and they all scored, with Jasper courtesy running for starting pitcher Barajas.
Barajas kept Service off the board until the fifth inning. Up 6-0, after Kemble’s two-run homer, Service began to chip away, scoring two in the fifth. And they would tie it, 6-6, an inning later.
“We had them down, 6-0, and they made that a game,” Milner said of Service’s comeback. “A real good game.”
But again, lightning would strike for Ketchikan’s Kemble. After a one-out triple by Kiffer and Service intentionally walking Barajas, No. 13 stepped into the batter’s box.
“I saw him getting intentionally walked and was like, ‘OK, I’m making you guys pay,’” Kemble said.
And he did just that. His two-run double went into left field, scoring Kiffer and Jasper, who courtesy ran for Barajas. Kemble would score from second base on a single by Hayden McGarrigan as the icing on the cake, and Ketchikan posted a 9-6 win.
“We strung quite a few hits together,” Milner said. “You’re going to run into adversity and things aren’t going to go your way. But it’s how you respond. And I thought they did great.”