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By SPENCER GLEASON
Daily News Sports Editor
For the first half of Ketchikan High School’s six-inning affair with Juneau-Douglas High School on Thursday afternoon, the Kings were in control.
The Kings posted 11 runs in those three innings at Moller Park in Sitka, and up and down the lineup, Kayhi was putting the bat on the ball.
“We started out really well,” Kayhi coach Andy Berntson said. “We were throwing strikes, and making plays. I mean, 11 runs in three innings. But then the second half. ... Our early lead gave us a buffer.”
But after scoring 11 runs — and three outs away from 10-run ruling the Crimson Bears — Kayhi allowed Juneau-Douglas to score five runs in the bottom half of the third inning. That forced the game to continue. But the Kings would hang on to the lead, eventually winning 11-6.
“It’s always nice to win,” Berntson said. “There’s no such thing as a bad win, (but) we want to play better; we want to play cleaner.”
Kayhi’s Brock King would get the Kings off on the right foot, starting the game off with a leadoff single.
“He did a good job getting on base,” Berntson said. “And he’s a problem (for the other team) once he gets on.”
The Kings’ Liam Kiffer followed King’s single with base hit to right field, and King would score from first base on a error.
Kiffer, Wyatt Barajas and Cody Kemble combined to go 4-for-7, with four runs scored and six RBIs. The two, three, four hitters helped give the Kings a balanced lineup — one through nine.
“”It was pretty balanced,” Berntson said. “AZ (Schultz) had a couple hits, and when you’re getting that kind of production from your number eight hitter, you’re in good shape.
“CJ Paule also had a couple hits,” he continued.
The Kings scored their 11 runs on nine hits. The Crimson Bears scored their six runs on five hits.
Despite 11 errors combined between the two ball clubs, when Juneau-Douglas threatened to score more in the fifth and sixth innings, Kayhi’s pitching and defense answered the call.
Kayhi’s Isaac Romano struck out Juneau-Douglas’ Gavin Millard with the bases loaded to end the threat in the bottom of the fifth.
And the Kings defense turned a double play to close the game in the bottom of the sixth — after Juneau-Douglas scored its sixth run.
“Isaac’s had a couple opportunities, and he’s worked hard,” Berntson said.
Romano also got out of a jam during the Kings’ trip to Arizona in March. And the young pitcher is one of several players that have caught the attention of Berntson during these preseason games.
The Kings’ trip to Sitka is considered preseason, as the games are all non-conference. Kayhi will start the regular season next weekend at Walker Field.
And Berntson is taking this opportunity to let several players take the field. The Kings traveled with 20 guys to Sitka. Although they can only roster 18 per game, with five games in three days, everyone will get a chance to play.
“It’s a balance between giving kids opportunities,” Berntson said. “And our JV team only has three weekends of committed play. So it’s a good way to increase time for those kids.”
The varsity roster still isn’t set. There still are a couple spots up for grabs.
“There are three or four spots on a daily basis,” Berntson said. “There are a handful of sophomores and juniors, and a handful of freshmen I like, that are battling it out.”
Romano is one of those, as is Paule.
“(Guys) have been taking advantage of it, certainly,” Berntson said.
Notes: The Kings will play Thunder Mountain High School at 9 a.m. on Friday. And once again at 2 p.m. against Sitka High School. They will play another double-header on Saturday, before returning home.