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By SPENCER GLEASON
Daily News Sports Editor
Things were back to normal at Walker Field this weekend. There were overcast skies, a little wind and rain, and even the sun popped out for a brief moment. But baseball was back.
It returned to Walker Field, which hadn’t seen a high school level game played there since mid-April.
Albeit the pair of double-headers against West Anchorage Post 1 on Saturday and Sunday was a quick turnaround from the state tournament for members of the Ketchikan High School baseball team. The Ketchikan Post 3 American Legion ball club was in action.
It had only been a week since the Kayhi Kings lost the state championship game against Wasilla High School, 8-6.
“It’s bittersweet,” Ketchikan High School baseball coach Andy Berntson said of returning to a ball field — any ball field. Not just Walker. The sting of a state championship loss is still real.
But Berntson also assists with the Ketchikan Post 3 American Legion team, along with Post 3 head coach Johnny Milner. And getting back in the swing of things brought a breath of fresh air.
“But it is good to be back out (here),” Berntson continued. “You’re never going to forget a loss like that, in a final game. But you want to at least get back at it, and start working on some positive things.”
There were some positive moments this weekend against West Anchorage, and Ketchikan won three of four against Post 1.
Post 3’s Liam Kiffer picked up where he left off from Kayhi’s season, and cranked a home run over the left field fence in Game 1 on Saturday. And Wyatt Barajas ripped four doubles in Saturday’s double-header, including two ground-rule doubles in Game 2.
Ketchikan lost Game 1, which was considered league competition, 5-1. It won Game 2, which was non-league, 11-4.
“Liam can hit,” Berntson said. “Liam and Wyatt can (both) hit.”
Ketchikan swept Sunday’s double-header, winning Game 1 4-2 and Game 2 12-1. Just like Saturday, Sunday’s Game 1 was considered league competition. Game 2 was considered non-league.
But aside from the two middle-of-the-lineup mainstays, Post 3 has names up and down the lineup that are starting to fill roles.
“(It’s) a mixture of kids from in and out of the (Kayhi) program, and both JV and varsity,” Berntson said.
Tug Olson, who graduated from Kayhi in 2018, has returned to Post 3. Legion baseball allows college freshmen to return if they spent their high school years in the program.
Vinny Trujillo also is on the baseball field this summer. Typically a football player, Trujillo hasn’t played in Kayhi’s baseball program. But he is immediately making his presence known. He just finished his junior year, and still has another year of high school.
“Vinny’s never played (baseball) for us,” Berntson said. “And the kid can hit. He’s always been a baseball player. … He played football. But yeah, he wanted to come out, and go after it. And that’s awesome.”
Kayhi JV and varsity players also are seeing more playing time this summer.
Ketchikan’s Dylan Nedzwecky, McKinley Hamilton, Korbin Stack, Terik Brown and Hayden McGarrigan were regulars in this weekend’s lineup against West Anchorage.
Stack pitched a complete game in Game 2’s win on Saturday.
“Korbin looked great,” Berntson said after the 11-4 win. “He’s just a baller. It’s so important to throw strikes. … We gave up a couple runs in the first inning on stupid errors. But otherwise, he was just all over the strike zone, making (West Anchorage hit its) way on instead of starting innings (by giving free bases).”
And Ketchikan’s CJ Jasper, Tyler Slick and James Nordlund also are on Post 3’s roster. Azariah Schultz is as well, but isn’t 100% healthy after catching a full varsity season. Nedzwecky played against Post 1.
Several Kayhi Kings ball players opted not to play this summer due to seasonal work. And Cody Kemble is playing baseball with a summer team in Washington.
“It’s a different squad, but it provides opportunities,” Berntson said.
Post 3 will host Chugiak Post 33 on June 13-15. Ketchikan plays all of its home games in June this season. Post 3 will travel to Anchorage for all of its games in July.
“There are a lot of different goals for these kids,” Berntson said. “A lot of them look at legion to get better for the next high school year; a lot of them look at it as ‘Hey, I just want to come out and play more games.’ And a handful of them weren’t even in the high school program. … So yeah, it’s pretty awesome.”