A Haines Little League team went winless at the Alaska District 2 Baseball Tournament in Juneau last month. Despite the losses, coach Gary Stigen said, the kids "were just totally into baseball" that week.
Haines brought 10 kids to the tournament for athletes age 11 and 12. The tournament also included teams from Juneau, Ketchikan, Petersburg, Prince of Wales, Sitka and Wrangell. Juneau topped Ketchikan for the tournament title.
Haines opened with a 4-2 loss to Wrangell on Monday, July 18.
"It was pouring down rain, and that was probably our best game," Stigen said. "Dylan Swinton was pitching the first game, and they never got a hit off us, but we walked a few and had a few errors."
The team had a day off Tuesday, but didn’t take a break from baseball.
"It was kind of neat," Stigen said. "We practiced in the morning, and we went to get something to eat, and then we asked the boys what they wanted to do. It was a drizzly day, and they said they wanted to go practice some more."
Haines then battled Prince of Wales on Wednesday. Prince of Wales had pounded Wrangell, 23-7, and Stigen said Haines scored a "moral victory" by holding Prince of Wales to 12 runs. Haines managed three runs of its own and learned from the opponent’s attacking style of play, Stigen said.
"Every time they’d get a walk, they wouldn’t walk to first base, they’d run, and if we were not paying attention, they’d keep running and go to second base, because it’s a live ball," he said.
Haines closed the tournament on Friday, with a 14-0 loss to Petersburg.
"It was a beautiful day out, but we just couldn’t hold onto the ball," Stigen said.
The Haines baseball players competed for two teams, the Red Sox and Yankees, from May to July in games at the Southeast Alaska State Fairgrounds. The Juneau tournament allowed them to face new competition.
"When you’re playing here in town, you play the same team every game, and you know who the hitters are, you know what the pitchers do and you know what’s going to happen," Stigen said. "When you play other people, you don’t know what’s going to happen. You don’t know how fast the pitchers are going to pitch or how good the hitters are, so you’re just apprehensive."
Next summer, Haines will host the tournament for the first time.
"James Sage and Ralph Swinton, years ago, got together and pursued their dream of having a tournament here, so they built the field down at the fairgrounds," Stigen said. "Most of the accomplishments are due to them."
Seth Diggins, Marty Fowler, Matthew Green, Autumn Gross, Ketch Jacobson, Dalton Klinger, Cameron Merklin, Dylan Palmieri, Jacob Stigen and Dylan Swinton represented Haines at the Juneau tournament, with coaching from Sage, Stigen and Josh Bentz.