JDHS baseball bests North Pole, advances to semifinals

Friday win would put JDHS in first title game since 2012

The Juneau-Douglas High School baseball team’s pitching has been dominant of late.


Two shutouts and an 11-1 win over Ketchikan the Region V Southeast Baseball Tournament showed that.

A five-inning 16-4 win over North Pole High School in the ASAA state baseball championships tournament proves its hitting is pretty good, too. Seniors Jacob Dale and Michael Cesar combined for six hits and seven RBI in the win on Thursday afternoon at Mulcahy Stadium in Anchorage.

JDHS advances to face the winner of Thursday night’s Colony-Chugiak game in the semifinals on Friday night.

“We got to bring that confidence in that next game because they’re probably not going to give us as many good-looking pitches,” Cesar said.

Starting pitcher Donavin McCurley picked up the win, allowing two runs on four hits while striking out four. North Pole pitcher Alex Garcia allowed 12 runs (10 earned) on 12 hits in four innings on the mound.

JDHS rallied in a big way in the third inning, scoring seven runs. Brock McCormick, McCurley and Dale singled, Cesar doubled and Luke Mallinger and Kasey Watts tripled.

JDHS scored one more run in the fourth inning and four in the fifth to elicit the 12-run mercy rule.

North Pole came out aggressive and quickly erased a 2-0 deficit in the bottom of the first inning. Leadoff man Kevin Rivas reached base on an error and then scored on Walker Stewart’s double to left field. The Patriots tied the game on Ethan Wolfe’s RBI double.

The Crimson Bears plated two more runs in the second inning to retake the lead. The two runs were just a small foretaste of the seven-run explosion JDHS produced in the next inning.

Meanwhile, the Patriots’ offense stalled, as McCurley began throwing more off-speed pitches.

“North Pole — hats off to them — they played great and they came out swinging,” JDHS coach Chad Bentz said. “Talk about an aggressive team. … They were really aggressive so I just talked Mike and Donavin and I just told them let’s take advantage of their aggression and let’s start mixing in off-speed (pitches). We did and that really helped.”

With his team holding a commanding 11-2 lead, Bentz subbed freshman Olin Rawson in at pitcher in the fourth. Rawson went 1 1/3 innings before giving the ball up to McCormick to pitch the final two outs. Both freshman pitchers threw under 30 pitches and will be available to throw in the semifinals on Friday.

“We were fortunate to put pressure on them, score some runs and it allowed me to pull Donavin and get some of our younger guys in the game with not a lot of pressure for their first state outing,” Bentz said.

• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or nainsworth@juneauempire.com. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.


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