A week jammed full of games in Anchorage for Kodiak Post 17 ended with a tough 7-5 American Legion baseball loss to league-leading Juneau Tuesday at Bartlett High School.
The Bears finished the six-game, five-day trip with a 3-3 record, and now stand at 7-3 in league play (8-5 overall).
With eight league games left, Kodiak sits in third with 31 points — a team earns four points for a win, two for a tie and one for playing. Juneau (9-1) leads the 15-team league with 37 points, while Chugiak — the only undefeated team left at 9-0 — is second with 36 points.
Kodiak will most likely drop in the standings because it doesn’t play another league game until July 11 when Bartlett comes to the island.
The top eight teams qualify for the state tournament, while the bottom seven play in the Horizon Lines Invitational.
Kodiak certainly proved it can play with the best, taking a 5-2 lead over Juneau after the second inning.
After gifting the Midnight Sun a pair of runs in the first inning on a misplayed fly ball by outfielder Frank Carlson, the Bears answered back by scoring all five of their runs in the second.
Juneau starter Jacob Thibodeau hit and walked the first two batters. John Norton brought home one on a double, while Martinez plated a pair on a single. Brandan Pickett added a run on a groundout, while the final tally was scored on a passed ball.
Juneau chipped away at the lead in the third when Nathan Klein led off with a deep double to center and scored on an Alex Muir single.
Kodiak starter Brandan Pickett escaped further damage by inducing a pair of ground ball double plays in two of the first three innings.
He fell off the tight rope in the fourth. The lengthy right-hander walked the bases loaded with one out. Juneau cleanup hitter Tod Baseden cleared the bases with a full-count double to the wall that gave his team the lead for good at 6-5.
Baseden eventually scored on a wild pitch from Luke James, who came on to get the last two outs on a double play — the third one turned by Kodiak in the game.
Pickett (2-1) took the loss, walking seven, hitting two and striking out three. He scattered five hits in 3 1/3 innings, and was ejected after the contest for saying something to the umpire. He will have to sit out of Kodiak’s next game — a nonleaguer against Bartlett on July 10.
Jakob Arnold gave Kodiak a chance to claw back in the game by holding Juneau scoreless over the final two innings. He struck out two and walked three.
Arnold tripled off of Juneau reliever Finn Collins to lead off the sixth. Collins was replaced by ace Klein, who worked out of the jam by striking out two and getting an out on a failed safety squeeze.
The Bears threatened again in the seventh. With one out, Kalen Willis reached on an error and Sam Bennett singled — his second hit of the game. With the tying run on base, Klein, who throws in the upper 80s, struck out the next two batters to seal the victory.
Kodiak’s three pitchers combined to walk 11 and hit three batters, but Juneau couldn’t take advantage of the free passes as it stranded 13 base runners.
On the trip, Kodiak split a pair of league games with Fairbanks 11 and Fairbanks 30 and beat East Anchorage.
MIDNIGHT SUN 7, BEARS 5
Kodiak 050 000 0 — 5 6 1
Juneau 201 400 x — 7 6 0
Pickett, James (4), Arnold and Walton. Thibodeau, Collins (5), Klein (6) and Muir.
RBI: Kodiak — Pickett, Norton, Martinez (2). Juneau — Baseden 3, Muir. Triple: Kodiak — Arnold. Double: Kodiak — Carlson, Norton. Juneau — Klein, Baseden. Three hits: Juneau — Muir. Two hits: Kodiak — Bennett.
Winning pitcher — Thibodeau (struck out three, walked two). Losing pitcher — Pickett (struck out three, walked seven).