Sitka holds off South 11-10 in superb state title game
Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 7, 2014
They had everything to lose, yet in the end the Sitka Wolves were the big winners.
They faced pressure from the expectation of having home-field advantage and playing defending state champion South in the championship game. They also had pressure to send longtime manager Ed Conway out on top.
Sitka won the biggest game in school history, in the rain, holding off South 11-10 in a three-hour slugfest at Moller Park that featured 18 hits, a grand slam and five lead changes. There was drama until the last pitch.
Sitka reliever Erickson Fish struck out South’s Willy Homza and Spencer Floyd with the tying run in scoring position in the bottom of the seventh inning to seal the deal.
“This is the best feeling of my life,” Fish told me. “It was crazy. I knew I had ‘em. Sometimes you just got that feeling. I knew it all year.”
Sitka [18-8] secured the school’s fourth baseball state championship, adding to the titles in 2005, 2006 and 2007 the Wolves won under Conway and his coaching staff. Conway has been the bench boss for nearly 20 years and he made the state final five times.
“The whole coaching staff, they’ve been there forever,” Fish said. “It’s the best way they could leave. They’ve done a great job over the years. For them to leave with a championship under their best; they’ve got four now. It’s something they’ll never forget. I’ll never forget.”
It’s a classic championship game nobody will ever forget.
Sitka took a 4-0 lead after the first inning only to see South roar back in the second inning and take a 6-4 lead after Alec Valdez cracked a grand slam. It was the second home run for Valdez in three days.
Sitka tied it at 6-6 in the third inning on Trevor Coleman’s two-run double and eventually took an 8-6 lead later in the same inning. In the fourth inning, though, South battled back to take a 9-8 lead on a Jacob Crapps two-run single.
In the fifth inning, Sitka went up 11-9 on an RBI single from Caleb Suarez and looked for more on Brian Way’s single, but South left fielder Nick Jensen gunned out the base runner at the plate.
In the sixth inning, Floyd’s one-out double set the table for South to inch closer at 11-10 when he scored on Jonah Costello’s base knock. But then Way shut the door. The big righty took over for starter Fred Elliott in the fourth and ended both the fifth and sixth innings with strikeouts.
Way [2 Wins, grand slam] and Fish [8-for-11, Win, Save] highlighted the all-tournament team and probably could have shared MVP honors.
“It was so fun. I was excited for the game the whole day,” Fish said. “It was definitely nerve wrecking though.”
The South players have no reason to hang their heads. The Wolverines won 14 of 17 games this year, captured the Cook Inlet Conference pennant and advanced to the state final for the third time in four years.
“We did everything but win the state championship,” South manager Cliff Butcher told me. “We battled to the end. We are ready to come home.”
This story was written by Van Williams, a freelance writer in Anchorage and the ALB Media Director.
Alaska State Champions