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By SPENCER GLEASON
Daily News Sports Editor
The day didn’t end as Ketchikan High School had hoped. But after a pair of second place finishes in state tournaments, the Kayhi baseball and softball programs were still in a position many other teams around the state would’ve liked to have been in — playing their sports on the final day.
The Kings and Lady Kings pushed their seasons to the very end on Saturday, as both played for their state championship in Anchorage. But when the final outs were recorded, neither the Kings nor the Lady Kings were on the right side of their final.
The Kings lost 8-6 to the Wasilla High School Warriors. The Lady Kings lost 11-3 to the Sitka High School Lady Wolves.
The Kings jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning against Wasilla at Mulcahy Stadium. Gavin Salazar drove in two with a base hit to left field, scoring Brock King and Wyatt Barajas. And Liam Kiffer led off the top of the third by blasting a 1-0 pitch from Wasilla’s Clayton Boyett over the left field wall to give the Kings a 3-1 lead.
Later in the frame, Tyler Slick scurried home on a pitch to the backstop, giving the Kings a 4-1 lead. And for a brief moment it felt like all was right in the big city, for the First City.
But then the wheels fell off.
Boyett led off the bottom of the third with a bunt single, followed by Clancey O’Donnell reaching base on an error, and a hit batsman loading the bases for the Warriors. And that started the merry-go-round.
Wasilla plated three runs in the third inning, tying the game 4-4. The Warriors would score four more in the fourth, taking their eventual 8-6 lead.
The Kings had base runners in both the sixth and seventh innings. Kiffer worked a two-out, 10-pitch walk in the top of the sixth. And Salazar walked in the seventh, but was left stranded on second base when the final out was recorded.
O’Donnell snagged a pop fly in foul territory to give the Warriors’ baseball program their first state championship.
It was the Kings first state championship appearance since 2012, when they lost 12-6 to Juneau-Douglas High School.
Likewise, the Lady Kings pushed their season as far as they could possibly go.
Kayhi played four games at Cartee Fields, including a pair of elimination games in the consolation bracket, before battling Sitka in a couple of state championship games. The Lady Kings began the day with a 9-1 win over Homer High School, followed by a 14-8 win over Kodiak High School.
Those victories set up a Southeast Alaska state championship against the Lady Wolves. But Sitka needed to be beaten twice in the double-elimination tournament.
The Lady Kings made a statement in the first game, winning 22-9.
Kayhi’s No. 8 and 9 hitters did most of the damage. Grace Clark and Jenna Miller combined for eight runs scored and nine RBIs, and were 6-for-10.
Dyllan Borer also had a pair of RBIs, and scored three runs. She knocked herself in in the top of the third, hitting a home run.
But after the first championship game, Kayhi simply ran out of gas in the winner-take-all matchup that immediately followed.
Sitka’s Avery Voron hit a home run in the top of the first, and the Lady Wolves carried that momentum throughout the five-inning game. The game was called due to the 11-3 run differential, and Sitka won its first state title since 2015. That year, the Lady Wolves also beat Kayhi.
It is the second straight year the Lady Kings were runners-up at state. Kayhi fell to Thunder Mountain High School in the state championship last season.