ANCHORAGE — Post 17's magical run through the 66th American Legion Baseball State Championships ended in heartbreaking fashion Sunday at Mulcahy Stadium in Anchorage.
After taking the lead over Kenai with a dramatic rally in the top of the seventh, the Twins ended the Bears' season with a stunning 4-3 walkoff win.
Kenai plated two in the inning, scoring the winning run with aggressive base running.
With runners on first and second and one out, relief pitcher Jack Malloy induced a groundball to shortstop Chase Good, who underhanded the ball to second baseman Khyler Kane for the force out. Kane's throw to first pulled Shaun Walton off the bag far enough that the runner from second broke for home after reaching third.
Walton's relay home was up the line, which let David Michael slide by the sweeping tag of catcher Nathan James, ending a game that featured four lead changes.
Michael, who went 4-for-4, tied the game at 3 with a single that scored Jeremy Kupferschmid, who led the frame off with a walk and then stole second.
The ending squashed what was going to be another miracle finish for the never-say-die Bears.
Trailing 2-1 with one out, Anders Hocum walked and stole second. He scored on Malloy's single to right field.
An out later, Malloy swiped second and put Kodiak ahead 3-2 when he hit home plate on a Luke James grounder to right. James earned a 10-pitch walk in his previous at bat and authored six marvelous innings on the mound.
In his final game for Post 17, James, who is off to play baseball at Folsom Lake College in California, fanned five and only gave up one earned run. He struck out the final batter he faced on his 100th pitch.
Kodiak grabbed an early 1-0 lead in the third inning on a single from Malloy that scored TJ Foxworthy.
Kenai answered with two in the bottom of the third, one scoring off an error.
It stayed that way until the wild seventh inning.
Post 17 was a late-entry into the state tournament when two teams — Wasilla and Ketchikan — were disqualified for not filing paperwork on time.
The Bears, the 10th-best team during the 18-game league season, proved they were worthy of playing with in the elite field by finishing tied for fifth with Chugiak and ahead of South and Service.
Kodiak (11-18) turned the tournament upside down by upsetting defending champion and No. 1 seed Juneau, 3-1, on Friday. The Midnight Suns were 23-1 and riding a 21-game winning streak to state.
It was Kodiak's first win at the state tournament since 1986 and the first time a No. 8 upended a No. 1 since 2014.
Many people are calling Kodiak's win as the biggest upset in the long history of the Alaska Legion State Championships.
The Bears came close to pulling another upset on Sunday and moving one win away from a trip to the Lower 48 and a spot in Tuesday's championship game.
Kenai 4, Kodiak 3
Kodiak 001 000 2 - 3 5 2
Kenai 002 000 2 - 4 8 3
L. James, Malloy (7) and N. James. Ochea, Ceccarelli (6), Kumferschmid (7) and Boze.
RBI: Kodiak - Malloy 2, L. James. Kenai - Michael, Brinster, Asp. Four hits: Kenai - Michael. Two hits: Kodiak - Malloy. Kenai - Brinster.
Winning pitcher - Kupferschmid (struck out none, walked none). Losing pitcher - Malloy (struck out none, walked two).