Five high school baseball teams will be battling for two state tournament berths at the region five tournament in Petersburg Thursday through Saturday. Sitka is the top seed among the five Southeast schools and will open up play Thursday afternoon at 4:30. The Wolves will take on the winner of the opening game of the tournament, the number four seed Thunder Mountain against the number five seed Petersburg. That game is at 10 a.m.
Petersburg High wrapped up its regular season last weekend with three road losses against the top seed in the region, Sitka. The Vikings lost both games of a double-header Friday 8-1 and 15-3 in a mercy-rule shortened game. That was also the case in a 10-nothing loss on Saturday.
Coach Jim Engell said his team struggled against Sitka. “Our pitchers struggled,” he said. “We allowed a lot of runners on and hit batters. And those runs came around to score I think every time. So, that’s something we’re gonna work on this week is just executing from the rubber some and bullpen sessions.”
Engell said he had really good play from his outfielders last weekend but he said the Vikings did not hit well as a team. He said there were a lot of things the team did well in the three losses.
“Kjell Witstock pitched real well for us,” Engell said. “He was on base several times for us in the losses, so it’s good, he’s our lead-off hitter and we need to get him on base. Stu Conn’s bat is starting to come around for us. Mark Niediffer had a real hard double down the left field line in the second game on Friday. It would be nice to see his bat come around cause he can really stroke the ball when he needs to. So if we could get him coming around that would be really helpful at tournament.”
Engell also praised the catching of Louden Sandhofer.
Petersburg opens up against Thunder Mountain Thursday morning at 10 a.m. The Vikings took two out of three from the Falcons during a home series during the regular season.
The second seed Ketchikan takes on the number three seed Juneau-Douglas at 1:30 Thursday.
Engell is glad to be hosting the regional tournament this year and expects some good baseball this week. “The region has won more state titles and have had more people playing in the state finals than any other conference in Alaska. I try to keep that in mind when we’re competing. We’re a small school and a small school to have baseball in Alaska. We’re playing in a very tough conference and I expect whoever comes out of here to really compete well at the state level this year.”
The championship game is on Saturday. The top two seeds will move onto the state tournament June 2nd in Anchorage.