The Ketchikan Junior League Baseball team, this year’s state champions, returned home Tuesday to a cheering crowd.

The Ketchikan Junior League Baseball team was greeted by parents, friends and family as they returned from a grueling 28-day trip.

They left in the middle of the night July 14th, when the team headed to Juneau. There, they ultimately faced off with Anchorage, winning the Alaska State Championship. The team catcher Azariah Schultz remembers when he knew they would win.

“What moment? Probably when I hit my double. Nice huff out to left field. I don’t know, just when I saw the other teams I knew we could win. Until we got down to regionals, and then that was a different story.”

After winning the state title, these 13- and 14-year-olds headed down to Vancouver, Washington, for the regional tournament. Ketchikan lost to Nevada and Hawaii, then won over Montana, and then lost to Northern California. Team Manager Steve Kemble says part of this was due to the conditions: Ketchikan boys just aren’t used to grass fields and nice weather.

“It was about 90 degrees at its warmest. We had a two o’clock game, two noon games and one 7 p.m. game…That didn’t go in our favor, the weather. We were hoping for 58 and rain and we probably would have won a few more games down there.”

One of the downsides that nearly everyone mentioned was one particular place they ended up staying while in Juneau.

“Well, it was like old and had lots of mice.”

“With no showers, they had two toilets, no showers. They had to go to people’s hotel rooms or the rec center to shower.”

“Wet, moldy church basement in Juneau. That was the best they could come up for us, but we made it work, we made it home and accidentally won the district title and had to stay there another week and won the state title, so we were glad to get out of there and go somewhere warm. “

Talking on the ferry on the way to  the airport, team mother Charlotte Glover says that parents took turns flying to Juneau and Vancouver to stay with the team, making sure their laundry was done and food was ready.

“And the sacrifice some of these parents made for taking care of the boys and cooking and shopping and doing their laundry every day. That’s what I was most grateful for. For going to Juneau was seeing the effort made on behalf of my child. I didn’t know what an endeavor it was.”

Even so, Kemble says this put the team budget back about $13,000 or $14,000, which he says they’ll be fundraising to replace later on in the year.

Now that they’re home, Gavin Salazar says he’s ready to get in a little bit of summer fun before school starts back up.

“Go, like on my boat and fishing and yeah.”

“Sleep in your own bed?”

“Definitely that. We had to sleep in the basement of a church for 19 days…”