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Service stays undefeated at Battle of Omaha, advances to Wednesday’s semifinals

by | Jun 18, 2024 | Baseball, Cover Story, Prep Spotlight

Andrew Hickman (left) celebrates after hitting a home run with Jake Rafferty at the Battle of Omaha. Photo by Stephanie Burgoon/Alaska Sports Report

The Service Legion Post 28 baseball team has taken an aluminum bat to the old adage that Alaska teams can’t win in the Lower 48.

The Cougars went two for two on Tuesday to stay undefeated at the Battle of Omaha Tournament in Nebraska and advance to Wednesday’s U19 semifinals.

Service moved to 3-0 in the tournament and improved to 6-2 against Outside competition dating back to last year’s Northwest Class A Regional Tournament.

Service is the first Alaska team to start 3-0 at the Battle of Omaha since South in 2011.

On Monday, the Cougars gone it done with the long ball, but Tuesday was more about pitching as Andrew Hickman struck out seven batters in four hitless innings in a 9-2 win over Allen, Texas, before Jake Rafferty and Kolby Jensen combined to hold down the fort in a 12-10 win over site host Westview, Nebraska.

The Battle of Omaha includes 48 teams from around the U.S. Later this week, Chugiak will play in a separate U19 tournament. It’s typical for Alaska teams to win games in the Lower 48 from time to time, but it’s not typical for them to beat Outside opponents three times in a row.

It’s happened only a handful of times over the last 25 years – South at the 2011 Battle of Omaha; Wasilla at the 2019 NWCART; Service at the 2023 NWCART and Service again at the 2024 Battle of Omaha.

Service catcher Landon Martindale tags out the runner at the plate. Photo by Stephanie Burgoon/Alaska Sports Report

The Cougars aren’t finished. On Wednesday morning they will face off against a fellow No. 1 seed from another division, with the winner advancing to the championship game.

Service (8-0) enters Wednesday having won 40 of its last 51 Legion games dating back to the 2022 state tournament.

In Tuesday’s nightcap, Rafferty pitched 5.1 innings and scattered seven hits and three walks while striking out seven to pick up the win before giving way to Jensen, who picked up a five-out save including a scoreless seventh.

Hunter Christian went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs while Andrew Hickman went 1-for-3 with a double and a single RBI. Rafferty and Keegan Lennox added RBIs, Chase Mascelli scored three runs and Owen Hickman went 2-for-4 and scored two runs.

In the first game of the day, Andrew Hickman, Michael Sculley and Sebastian Fournier held Allen without a hit for five innings before the game was called because of the mercy rule.

Jensen knocked in three runs and went 2-for-3 while Christian reached three times and scored three times. Rafferty and Lennox added RBIs for the Cougars.

On Monday, Christian and Kolby Jensen hit back-to-back jacks in the first inning and Andrew Hickman homered in the second to power a 10-0 victory over Douglas, Wyoming.

A Douglas, Wyoming, outfielder watches one of three Service home runs at the Battle of Omaha. Photo by Stephanie Burgoon/Alaska Sports Report

Service banged out 12 hits and scored eight runs in the first inning, including Christian’s three-run shot followed by Jensen’s blast. Later, Hickman’s solo shot made it 9-0.

Hickman finished 3-for-3 while Christian went 2-for-3, threw out a runner at the plate and pitched two innings. Fournier and Mascelli each went 2-for-3.

Service 12, Westview (NE) 10
Service 060 420 0 – 12 9 2
Westview 330 103 0 – 10 9 4
Service – Rafferty, Jensen (6) and Martindale. 2B – Christian (S), Martindale (S), A. Hickman (S). 3B – None. HR – None.

Service 9, Allen (TX) 2
Allen 000 02 – 2 0 0
Service 213 3x – 9 10 0
Service – A. Hickman, Lennox (5), Sculley (5), Fournier (5) and Mascelli. 2B – Christian (S), O. Hickman (S), Fournier (S). 3B – None. HR – None.

Service 10, Douglas (WY) 0
Douglas 000 00 – 0 3 2
Service 810 1x- 10 12 0
Service – Christian, Fournier (3), Dalton (4) and Martindale. 2B – None. 3B – None. HR – Christian (S), Jensen (S), A. Hickman (S).

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