Advertisement

Sitka and Eagle River open Division I state baseball tournament with commanding victories

May 31—Two years ago, Sitka made a surprising run to the program's first state finals appearance since 2017 before coming up short to perennial powerhouse South Anchorage.

On Thursday afternoon, after blowing out West Valley 11-1 in six innings to open the 2024 ASAA Division I state tournament at Mulcahy Stadium, the Wolves believe that won't be the case this time around.

"We came out, our pitcher threw great, we got behind a little bit on a couple batters but we got them back with strikes and turned three big double plays, which helped a lot," head coach Ken Carley said.

The Wolves didn't waste any time scoring, putting up three runs in the bottom of the first inning. Carley said the runs were "huge" in building momentum as well as establishing an early lead.

"I'd love to start every game that way, but it just doesn't happen," Carley said. "It was nice getting a good lead and getting a good pitcher out there for us."

One of their hottest bats on the day was junior outfielder and pitcher Bryce Compagno-Calhoun, who recorded three of Sitka's nine hits, scored three runs and was responsible for a two-run RBI single to earn Player of the Game honors.

"It feels great," he said. "We all had a lot of energy and we were just hitting the ball. Going in, we wanted to be aggressive and just hit the ball and have fun, and it worked out."

Compagno-Calhoun is one of just five holdovers from that state runner-up team. He was a freshman at the time and believes this year's squad has what it takes to go far.

"We've got a really good group," he said. "We're a lot more skilled and want to keep going with a lot of energy moving forward."

The Wolves' explosive opening inning was threatening to be their only multi-run frame of the game until they blew it open for good in the bottom of the sixth with six runs after capitalizing on some control struggles by the Wolfpack's pitcher.

"I had our guys be selective because I knew what was going on and they were only swinging at strikes and it came down to either a walk or a hit there," Carley said.

Eagle River continues to look like top contender with opening-round shutout

Sitka wasn't the only team with a Wolf mascot that set a strong tone and sent a clear message about its legitimacy as a title contender Thursday afternoon.

Eagle River was even more dominant in its quarterfinal victory, which came via a 14-0 shutout of Juneau-Douglas in just five innings in the second game of the day.

"I just think our guys were ready to play today, and we had an opportunity to jump on them a little bit at the beginning of the game," Eagle River head coach Bill Lierman said. "At the end of the day, we hit the ball well and found some holes."

The Wolves were red-hot at the plate and capitalized on the Crimson Bears' errors, recording multiple runs in all but one inning. That included putting up four in the second, three in the fourth and five in the fifth.

"I think our guys stayed back on the ball and put some good swings on it," Lierman said.

According to Lierman, the Wolves have put together a solid offensive stretch that goes back to mid-May.

"This is a continuation of how we played in the (Cook Inlet Conference) tournament when we played three really good games," he said. "That puts four in a row and hopefully that will carry over into the next game."

2024 ASAA Division I State Baseball Championship

At Mulcahy Stadium

Thursday

Quarterfinal

Sitka 11, West Valley 1

Eagle River 14, Juneau-Douglas 0

South 5, Colony 4

Service 2, Chugiak 1

Friday

Semifinal

Sitka v. Service, 4 p.m.

Eagle River v. South, 7 p.m.

Saturday

Finals 3:30 p.m.

2024 ASAA Division II State Baseball Championship

At Wasilla High School

Thursday

Quarterfinals

North Pole 14, Monroe Catholic 4

Kenai Central 11, Petersburg 7

Soldotna 6, Kodiak 2

Palmer 28, Delta 1

Friday

Semifinals

North Pole v. Kenai Central, 3:30 p.m.

Soldotna v. Palmer, 6 p.m.

Saturday

Finals, 3 p.m.