Chugiak, Juneau to play Tuesday for berth in Legion title game
Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jul 29, 2013
Now we’re getting serious.
Day 6 of the Alaska Legion state tournament at Mulcahy Stadium features a marquee matchup between No. 2 Juneau Post 25 and No. 4 Chugiak Post 33, with the winner advancing to the championship game and the loser dropping into an elimination round.
Only four of 10 teams are still alive, the same four teams that claimed the top four spots in the final league standings. No. 1 Wasilla Post 35 will face No. 3 South Post 4 in an elimination game Tuesday at 10 a.m.
The final four is a battle of the best against the best.
Over the years, few teams have matched Chugiak’s success at the state tournament. This year marks the fourth time since 2008 that the Mustangs have started 2-0 under manager Bill Lierman, who recently coached his 55th career game at state since 2001.
Chugiak is 8-2 in its last 10 games verses Alaska competition since returning home from a tough road trip in Kentucky and Tennessee.
“I think what that trip allowed us to was deal with adversity at a high level,” Lierman said. “We played some really good teams and dealt with it day in and day out. I think adversity makes you look at the future rather than dwelling on the past.”
Chugiak isn’t a different team, even though the Mustangs are playing like one. In reality, the message has been the same since the very beginning.
“Everything I have told them this whole year started back in March at the gym. What I told them then is no different than what I will tell them Tuesday,” Lierman said. “It’s our whole process. If I’m going to start changing before a big game that means I haven’t done my job. I haven’t prepared them for that big game.”
The last time Juneau played in the Legion state tournament was in 2001, when the team placed third.
The Midnight Suns are back this year under manager Andy Macaulay, who was named Alaska Coach of the Year along with Lierman and Bartlett manager Devon Morgan.
Macaulay’s team has won 22 of 29 games so far and he gave the players all the credit. He said their attitudes and effort have been outstanding.
“They aren’t accustomed to playing nine innings so we’ve preached really hard to play the game all the way through, not to give up when they are up by 10 runs or down by 10 runs,” he said. “The kids have worked really hard and they’re showing that they can compete.”
Juneau certainly did that, beating every team in the league, including Chugiak twice.
In some ways, this season has already exceeded Macaulay’s expectations.
However, he was quick to point out that they are not content.
“Every team’s expectation is to win the tournament and advance to the Northwest Regional, and that’s our goal as well, but for me I think the season has already been a success because our kids are playing this summer, where for the last 12 years they haven’t,” Macaulay said.
“To me, that’s the success that I see. The smiles on their faces, the camaraderie … the high school season is just too short. There is more baseball to be played and my desire that we do this well into the future and it’s to going to be easy … but that’s the commitment I have toward the program, so kids in Juneau will keep playing baseball all summer.”
10 AM South vs. Wasilla – elimination game
1 PM Chugiak vs. Juneau – winner’s bracket game
1 PM South-Wasilla winner vs. Chugiak-Juneau loser – elimination game
2 PM State Championship Game
6 PM If-Necessary Game