Sitka, South steamroll into state championship game
Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 6, 2014
Brian Way grew up watching Ed Conway coach the Sitka baseball team to prominence, turning one of the smallest schools into a giant on the diamond.
Tonight, Way helped Conway reach his final state title game.
The 6-foot-6, 245-pound slugger crushed a grand slam in the fourth inning to cap a 10-run outburst as the Sitka Wolves hammered Wasilla 14-0 in the semifinals of the 2014 ASAA/FNBA state tournament at Moller Park.
This is Conway’s final season after almost 20 years.
“It feels really good to get to the state championship game,” Way told me. “We gotta send Ed out a winner.”
Standing in the way is big, bad South.
“They’ve always put together a good team,” Way said.
The defending state champion Wolverines blanked Colony 4-0 in the other semifinal behind pitcher Sage Dudick’s 3-hit beauty. He gave up just one hit after the first inning, settling down nicely.
The shutout propelled South into the state final for the third time in the last four years. The Wolverines won in 2013 and 2011.
“One game away from our goal,” South manager Cliff Butcher told me. “Sage pitched a gem. We needed a quick game after the marathon against Juneau. He just did a great job keeping Colony off balance.”
A day earlier, South beat Juneau 7-6 in 15 innings in the longest game in state tournament history. In that game, South starter Nick Jensen struck out 16 in nine innings.
Dudick was just as effective, but in a different way.
“He did a great job of changing speeds and pitching to contact. You don’t need strikeouts. You just need outs,” Butcher said.
South led 2-0 before Tommy Koloski’s big two-run double made it 4-0.
The Cook Inlet Conference champion Wolverines improved to 14-2 on the year.
Sitka improved to 17-8 on the year and reached the state championship game for the fifth time in school history, but the first since 2008.
The Wolves are the only Alaska team to win three consecutive state titles in 2005, 2006 and 2007. They were second in 2008.
Under Conway, Sitka has won 13 winner’s bracket games at the state tournament, second only to Juneau’s 17.
Way’s older brother, Matt, helped Conway win his first state title at Sitka and little bro would like to help the coach win his last. But he can’t get carried away with emotions.
“I just go out there and try to do whatever I can to help me team. I’ve been doing the job I guess,” Way said.
He started the state opener and pitched into the seventh in a 10-4 win over Eagle River. Then he crushed a grand slam, his sixth home run of the year.
The only Sitka player hotter at the plate is Erickson Fish, who has banged out four extra-base hits in two games; three doubles last night and a two-run triple tonight that got the party started.
“He was hot all the way through regions. He’s just not cooling down,” Way said. “We’ve really turned it on when we needed to.”
Saturday’s state title game is at 4 p.m.
Follow the game live at asbn.net or asaa.org/baseball.
This story was written by Van Williams, a freelance writer in Anchorage and the ALB Media Director.
ASAA State Tournament
South 4, Colony 0
Sitka 14, Wasilla 0
Lathrop 5, Juneau 2
West Valley 7, Eagle River 4
Fourth place Lathrop vs. West Valley
Third place Wasilla vs. Colony
Championship South vs. Sitka