VOCAL EXERCISES - Artist in the Schools instructor Sarah Branton of Cherry Creek, Colorado, leads an exercise in the Sitka High School band room this morning as she teaches students how to improve their volume. Branton will be here all week working with choirs at Blatchley Middle School and Sitka High. Her instruction is part of the effort to rebuild school  choir programs and numbers following the pandemic. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

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Daily Sitka Sentinel

Sitka Pinch Hit Prevents Juneau Series Sweep


Sentinel Staff Writer

In the final games of the regular baseball season, the Sitka High Wolves lost two games to Juneau Douglas before coming back with a win in the last game of a series played at Moller Field Friday and Saturday.

Though Sitka’s bats were hot in game one, the team’s defense couldn’t hold the Crimson Bears at bay and the Wolves fell 14-13. Juneau improved their performance in game two, and won 12-4 against a Sitka squad that came out flat.

But in game three, an eleventh hour pinch hit by Tanner Steinson gave the Wolves a 1-run margin and they held on for a 4-3 win.

Batting in the series opener, junior Grady Smith slammed the ball over the fence for a first-inning home run.

“It really wasn’t that much pressure at the time. But I’ve never hit a ball that far,” Smith said. “I hit it over the Subway sign (on the outfield fence)... It was just like another hit, I was just hoping it wasn’t going to be caught and it got out of here,” Smith said after the game.

His hitting was on point that game, as he went three-for-four at the plate, batting in 7 of the Wolves’ 13 runs in the first game.

After the losses to Juneau, Sitka will enter the regional tournament this weekend seeded second in Southeast, but Smith said that doesn’t bother him.

“We proved last year the rankings don’t mean anything, so I think we’ll repeat what we did last year and just win it all again. We have to if we want to go to state,” Smith said.

The state tourney, in the first week of June, will be on Sitka’s home turf at Moller Field. But before that, the Wolves will play in the Region V tournament this coming weekend in Juneau.

Sitka’s problem in the first two games of this past weekend’s series was pitchers giving up too many bases on balls, said Smith, who pitched in the second game.

“There were just too many walks,” he said. “You just can’t walk that many guys and win a game,” he said.

Steinson said pitching was a factor, but Sitka’s hitting also was off in game two. 

“In the second game, we only had a couple of hits, and that was just from Grady and Dylan (Marx),” he said.

Sitka senior Dylan Marx declines to swing at a ball during a game against Juneau-Douglas in Sitka over the weekend. Sitka lost the first two games of the series but pulled out a win in game three. (Sentinel photo by James Poulson)

The first game, on Friday night, ran until 11 p.m., so late the large lights looming over the field automatically turned off, and had to be turned on again so play could resume. Saturday’s games took place earlier, allowing the sleep deprived players to compete under natural light.

Like his players, SHS coach Ken Carley said the team’s problem against Juneau boiled down to pitching troubles.

“We hit really well; everyone hit. Our pitching just wasn’t quite there,” he said. “Our starter did well and then our bullpen couldn’t take care of business that night,” said Carley. “We should have had that one. Full second game, none of our pitchers could throw strikes. It was weird. It was like there was a Bermuda Triangle in front of the plate, I wasn’t sure what it was.”

But Sitka got back on track and secured a 4-3 win in the final game of the series.

“That was a good one. Our pitchers threw a lot of strikes. And our defense worked for us and we pushed runs across,” Carley said.

With senior pitchers Ben Turner, Keaton Blankenship and Sam Johnson atop the mound, the home team held Juneau’s batters at bay.

In the last inning of the final game, the score was tied and the game was hanging in the balance, with Sitka at bat, two outs on the board and the bases loaded. Carley called up Tanner Steinson as a pinch hitter.

“I saw them intentionally walk Dylan and Grady in front of me because they’re both solid hitters,” Steinson recalled. “And right before that, Chance (Coleman) hit a triple to make them want to intentionally walk… And then I got put up to go hit. And I got a little nervous; I was definitely nervous. Then my coach told me to just calm down and all we need is a hit... And then I got in there, watched one down the middle. And at that point my legs were shaking a little bit, and then I just swung.”

Steinson made solid contact with the ball, scoring a run and securing Sitka’s 4-3 win.

“It felt good, felt really good. I knew, right when I hit it, it was going to win the game,” Steinson said.

Steinson is confident his team has solid odds in the regional and state competitions.

“I’m just looking to win all the games. Just to do whatever we can to win, play our best, play how I know we can because I know we’re the best team in the state,” he said.

The Wolves baseball squad travels to Juneau this weekend for the regional competition, and Sitka’s softball team plays at home for their regional contest beginning Thursday.

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At a Glance

(updated 9-12-2023)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 8:57 a.m. Tuesday, September 12.

New cases as of Tuesday: 278

Total cases (cumulative) statewide – 301,513

Total (cumulative) deaths – 1,485

Case Rate per 100,000 – 38.14

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

COVID in Sitka

The Sitka community level is now "Low.'' Case statistics are as of Tuesday.

Case Rate/100,000 – 152.50

Cases in last 7 days – 13

Cumulative Sitka cases – 3,575

Deceased (cumulative) – 10

The local case data are from Alaska DHSS.






September 2003

Sitka Tribe of Alaska is “upset and disturbed” about the Senate appropriations bill that cuts spending for Alaska tribal courts, STA Vice Chairman Gil Truitt said today. He was referring to Sen. Ted Stevens’ move to divert Department of Justice grants from tribal courts and tribal police officers to fund the Village Public Safety Officer program.



September 1973

Photo caption: Receiving service pins at a Carpenters Union Local 466 dinner meeting at the Kiksadi Club were, from left, Arthur Littlefield, Alvin Helm, Harley Finch, Dave Gibson, Gerald Hughes, Fred Nelson, Walter Moy, Edward Nelson, William Sutton and Don Stromme.


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