State Tournament Day 5: Juneau 5, South 4
Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 30, 2019
Game 14 Juneau 5, South 4
Donavin McCurley and Bobby Cox delivered RBI singles in the bottom of the eighth inning to help the Midnight Suns walkoff on South and advance to the state championship game for the third straight season.
No. 2 Juneau rallied from deficits of 2-0, 3-2 and 4-3 before ending the game in extra innings against a No. 5 South squad that was involved with three walkoffs in five tournament games, taking one and dropping two.
Juneau’s Luis Mojica started the winning rally with a bunt single. He stole second base and with one out scored on McCurley’s sharp base hit. Christian Ludeman then singled to move McCurley into scoring position. Cox singled on an 0-2 pitch to score McCurley with the winning run.
Juneau (27-5) advanced tonight’s 6:15 title game against No. 1 Wasilla.
Many times, it didn’t look like the two-time defending state champions from the capital city would make it back to the finals.
South (20-12) took a 3-2 in the fifth inning after Gunnar Nix walked, stole second base and advanced to third base on Ryan Bailey’s sac bunt. Juneau starter Brock McCormick then won a 10-pitch battle with Ricky Gatter after Gatter had fouled away four straight balls to stay alive and push the count.
The next batter, Brock Reid, then hit a routine grounder to the shortstop, who didn’t field cleanly the ball, which allowed Reid to reach and Nix to score. South maintained that momentum in the bottom half as the Wolverines defense recorded a caught stealing and turned a double play.
In the sixth inning, however, Juneau tied the game at 3-3 on the weirdest of plays. As usual, McCurley was right in the middle of the action. He led off with walk and went to second base after Ludeman was hit by a pitch. Exit South starter Josh McGovern. Enter South reliever Gage Webster.
Webster got the first out on a pop up and then appeared to have escaped the two-on jam when Kasey Watts hit a tailor-made double play ball, but the first baseman couldn’t handle the low throw. That error extended the play – literally – as Watts never really stopped running and created a rundown.
The decision to keep running was so brazen, so unexpected, it worked. The South defense initially focused on Watts, just for a second, and the speedy McCurley capitalized on that momentary lapse of concentration and raced home from third base to tie the game without a throw.
In the eighth inning, South took a 4-3 lead after Brock singled and eventually scored after back-to-back bunts. Twice, Juneau tried to get the lead runner and failed. With the bases loaded and no outs, Josh Costello’s swinging bunt scored Reid from third base. Costello wasn’t bunting, but topped the ball so well it rolled 25 feet from the plate and died in the FieldTurf.
Juneau reliever Olin Rawson got out of the jam with a strikeout to end the inning. He wound up getting the winning decision in relief of starter Brock McCormick, who pitched 7.1 innings.
Juneau improved to 2-0 against South on the season and 4-1 all-time at the state tournament dating back to 2013.