Juneau eliminated from Regional after 9-8 loss to Casper

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 8, 2019

Just when it looked as if the Juneau Post 25 Midnight Suns would be victorious at the Northwest Regional Tournament for a second straight year, the rug was pulled out from underneath them.

 

Despite holding a five-run cushion going into the bottom of the seventh inning, the lead did not hold as Casper (WY) scored six times and walk off with a 9-8 win in the loser’s bracket to avoid elimination in Lewiston, Idaho.

 

Casper – a team that was no-hit yesterday – used three doubles, four walks and a hit batsman to tie the game before winning it after a wild pitch allowed the go-ahead run to score from third base. The Oilers (45-17) are playing at the Northwest Regional for the first time in 23 years.

 

Juneau (29-7) was eliminated from the tournament and fell to 1-6 in regional play over the last three years. This defeat had to sting the most, in large part because the Midnight Suns did so many things right in building an 8-3 lead.

 

They collected 13 hits with Christian Ludeman and Kasey Watts each going 3-for-4. Watts added three RBIs and scored two runs, and Ludeman scored twice and drove in a run.

 

Gabe Storie was 2-for-3 with a run. Oliver Mendoza was 2-for-4. Brock McCormick was 1-for-4 with two RBIs. Bobby Cox was 1-for-3 with two runs and an RBI. Chase Foster added an RBI.

 

Juneau took a 6-3 lead in the third and added single runs in the fourth and seventh innings to push the advantage to 8-3. All the while starting pitcher Donavin McCurley was cruising on the mound, leaving after 5.2 innings, with the lead.

 

He racked up several consecutive scoreless frames after a tough first inning when he gave up three runs on a bases-clearing double by Corbin Kirk. Those three runs pushed Kirk’s RBI total to 90 this year. Ninety! This guy is hitting .475 with 13 home runs, 25 doubles and nine triples.

 

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound slugger is a beast in the box, yet McCurley got him to fly out to left field in the third inning and ground out to first base in the fifth inning.

 

This was the second time McCurley has thrown a gem at the Northwest Regional. In 2017, he threw a 9-inning complete game in 89 pitches in a 3-1 loss to eventual regional champion Lewiston (ID).

 

In Juneau’s six losses over the last three years at the Northwest Regional, four games were close and two defeats were on walk-offs. That might not seem like much, but Alaska teams were outscored 258-63 at the regional from 2008 to 2016.

 

Juneau no doubt helped Alaska close the competitive gap in our region, but we are reminded of the work still ahead. Next season will be here before you know it.