Knik 11-12 Majors All-Stars win District I title
Emerging with a perfect 4-0 in pool play at Anchorage’s Davenport Field, members of the Knik Little League 11-12 All-Stars baseball team definitely knew the target was on their backs as the tournament came home to Lions Park for bracket play last week.
The host team played well in the first two games, then lost 4-1 to Nunaka Valley to push Knik to the brink of elimination, reported manager Luke Sorensen.
What resulted, in the team’s road back to the championship game, then title, was one of wonder.
The coach said he still doesn’t know why the team lost to Nunaka in the first place.
“We had our opportunities – we just didn’t score,” said Sorensen, citing a bases-loaded, one-out inning that failed to yield a run.
Scoring was not a problem for the team in the loser’s bracket, when with their backs to the wall, the team outscored opponents, Kodiak, Abbott-O-Rabbit and Nunaka Valley, by a combined 33-6 runs.
“So many kids were really hitting the ball well,” said Sorensen on Sunday, looking forward to the state of this week’s state tournament at Lions Park, beginning Wednesday. The winner of the best-of-five series between Knik and Juneau, Gastineau Channel, advances to the Western Regional in San Bernadino, Calif.
Thanks to strong hitting, Knik was able to survive a defensive hiccup in games against previously unbeaten Dimond-West.
“I think we definitely had the strongest team defensively. We just made some uncharacteristic errors,” he said.
The team’s strength also includes pitching, with 12 of the team’s 13-man roster capable of stepping up on the mound and depositing strikes. With such numbers, Sorensen said he is able to keep individual pitch counts down.
“I think that’s what helped us against Dimond-West. They ran out of pitchers,” he said.
Sorensen said the Juneau team had a shorter route to the state tournament, winning all five games in the four-team District 2 format.
The Knik coach said that while some might consider his team’s longer route in the District I tournament a detriment, he feels the team is playing their best ball now.
“Some of the kids who were struggling at the plate earlier have been really turning it on lately,” he said.The best-of-five state tournament format begins Wednesday, with games nightly at 6 p.m. at Lions Park.