Region V baseball tourney puts town on the map
Vince Kowalski pitched an outstanding game against Wrangell on Thursday, throwing six strike outs and giving up only four hits, leading the Vikings to a 15-3 win and keeping the team alive for another day in the tournament.
The Region V Baseball Championships continued on Thursday for the Vikings after an 8-3 loss to Thunder Mountain moved Petersburg into the tournament’s loser’s bracket.
Thursday’s game was against Wrangell which had also lost their first game on Wednesday.
Vince Kowalski pitched the complete game for the Vikings.
“Vince pitched a great game for us. He had complete command of everything,” remarked Viking Head Coach Jim Engell.
Kowalski threw six strikeouts, had four hits against him, and gave up three earned runs.
The Vikings defense was in great shape throughout the game.
“When your defense plays well your pitcher has confidence, and when your pitcher has confidence he forces the other team to hit the ball poorly…that’s exactly what happened,” said Engell. “We made a lot of good outs in that game, defensively. Colby Bell had a diving catch in the outfield. We had some good infield play from our middle infielders, the third basemen.”
Vikings batters had seven hits.
Taylor Pullar and Colby Bell each had two hits.
Dalton Small, Cody Seaman, and Billy Ware all hit singles.
The game ended up a 15-3 win for Petersburg.
The game was a tournament elimination game for both teams, so Wrangell’s season ended and the Vikings continued on to face Ketchikan on Friday.
The win against Wrangell was a milestone for Petersburg’s seven-year-old baseball program. It is only the second ever tournament-win for the team.
“It’s a milestone along the way, a building block for the future,” said Coach Engell.
In Friday’s game Pullar took the mound and the Vikings jumped out early on 4 – 0 over the Ketchikan Kings.
In the fourth inning the Kings tied it up, but one inning later the Vikings had pulled ahead by two more runs, making it 6 – 4 in the 5th.
“Then they started hitting Taylor pretty good in the 5, 6, and 7 innings. We had a few errors along the way in the middle innings that really hurt us. That was probably the biggest difference in the game,” said Engell. “They had more hits than us, but I think we could’ve contained their offense had we made the outs. But there were a few mistakes along the way, and that’s just part of being a young team.”
In the final few innings the Kings pushed past the Vikings capitalizing on errors and hitting well until they had a five run lead over the Vikings in the 7th inning.
“We were down 11-6 in the 7th inning and Taylor got up, his last at bat in high school, and hit a home run… a nice way for the game to end,” said Engell.
Pullar had a very strong tournament batting .444 with four hits, a home run, and five scored runs.
Pullar was named to the All-Conference Team, which consists of 12 players across the conference nominated then voted for by all the coaches.
“It was a good tournament across the board, not just our team,” said Engell.
“There was some good play, particularly in the losers bracket, as Ketchikan had to come back. Ketchikan had a long road. They beat Craig, then they lost to Sitka, and that was probably the best game of the tournament, on Thursday. That went into nine innings and Sitka won with a walk off home run at the end of the ninth.”
“So then we played Ketchikan on Friday and that was after that emotional game the night before and I think that might have been how we got the jump on them. They beat us Friday and had to turn around and play Thunder Mountain on Saturday morning and beat them 5-1. Then they had to face Sitka, and whoever won that one would go to state in the number 2 seat, and they beat them 4-1,” said Engell.
Ketchikan put on quite a show as underdogs who fought back after a loss, and, though they were seeded fourth going into the tournament, toppled the top ranked team in the conference (Sitka) taking their place at the State tournament.
“It just shows you how balanced our league really is,” commented Engell.
Juneau took first in the tournament, by winning three in a row against Wrangell, Thunder Mountain and Sitka.
“They beat Sitka 10-3. They were pretty convincing in their win,” said Engell.
“I was pleased with how the community turned out and supported regional baseball,” said Engell.
“The baseball facility is everything Ryan McFarland was hoping for when we built that facility five or six years ago. On Friday night, when Juneau was playing the championship game, there was softball practice going on, and a T-ball game going on. There was Major League on the yellow field and the high school game going on. It was everything the vision of Parks and Rec. had years ago. It was as busy as I’ve ever seen the ball field,” described Engell.
Coaches and parents from the visiting teams took note of Petersburg’s facilities and hospitality during the tournament.
“It put Petersburg on the map for high school baseball. That’s what coaches were saying and it’s nice to hear,” said Engell.
Taylor Pullar casually rounds third on his way home after smashing a walk-off home run during the last at-bat of his high school baseball career.
“This town did a really nice job of rolling out the red carpet for visitors… there was a lot of help. My assistant coach Scott Pullar did prep work on the field between all the games. He was tireless with his efforts to keep that going. Dave [Nauman], the Parks and Rec guy, was up there chalking lines. Jaime Cabral did a good job of making sure this was a top-notch facility for our tournament. The weather cooperated. The field and pitching mound held up great. I can’t be any more pleased than what I am,” said Engell.
“It’d be fun to be going to Anchorage for the State tournament this weekend, but that was a long shot going in. Our boys did great, like they’ve done all season. They were a great group to work with and I think we have a lot of excitement coming into next season,” he said.
“Punctuated with that last inning, Taylor had that nice home run. Dalton Small got up and hit a really nice shot,” said Engell. “Just little things like that show we are improving every year…that’s part of the excitement of building a program, and we’re all excited about next year.”