The Wasilla Warriors toppled the Soldotna Stars 5-4 in walkoff fashion Saturday in Wasilla.
After defeating SoHi 5-0 in last year’s Southcentral Conference championship, the Warriors have continued to hold back the Stars, sweeping their southerly rivals in a pair of games Friday and Saturday.
In Saturday’s contest, Wasilla squandered a 4-0 lead over SoHi, giving up three runs in the top of the fifth inning and one in the seventh.
Down 4-3 entering the top of the seventh, SoHi got a leadoff single from Austin Asp, who eventually scored the tying run on a two-out single by Caleb Spence.
However, Wasilla had an answer at the bottom of the frame. After Stars reliever Tanner Ussing notched the first two outs, Ben Werner was issued a walk, and two batters later, Cyrus Lovell sent a blooper to left centerfield that was bobbled by SoHi’s outfield, opening up the gates for Werner to score the walkoff run.
Soldotna head coach Robb Quelland praised his team’s persistence and fight throughout the weekend.
“I think it really showed the tenacity of our team,” Quelland said. “We’re still trying to get our feet under us, we’re still catching up with the pitching.”
The Stars outhit the Warriors 8 to 4, led by Jeremy Kupferschmid’s 3-for-4 outing, while Terrence Slats knocked in two runs on a base hit.
SoHi starting pitcher Jake Marcuson lasted 2 1-3 innings, giving up three earned runs on two hits and three walks. Asp entered in relief and pitched 2 2-3 scoreless innings with two hits and zero walks. Ussing took the loss with 1 2-3 innings, walking three batters.
Austin Robertson received the win for Wasilla, giving up one run on three hits in two frames.
“It was a great weekend,” Quelland said. “Nothing like going up against one of the best teams in the state to test yourself.”
Kenai 6, Houston 5
The Kardinals finished their weekend Saturday with a tight win over Houston on the road.
Kenai 17, Palmer 5
The Kenai Central baseball squad opened its season Friday with a dominant road victory over Palmer. The Kardinals held leads of 5-0 and 10-2 as they mercy-ruled the Moose in six innings.
Gavin Pettersen pitched a complete game, giving up just three hits and smoking eight strikeouts, with four walks.
“We had an awesome defensive game,” said Kenai head coach Steve Nimcheski. “We had three or four ESPN highlight plays, and not a single error in the infield.”
Nimcheski said Paul Steffensen at shortstop played a role in a Kardinals infield that made it tough for Palmer to hit to the outfield, allowing Petersen to keep his pitch count low.
“(Pettersen) had good stuff today, and they were freeswinging,” Nimcheski said. “He was locating stuff well and had good command of his off-speed stuff.”
Meanwhile, the Moose had a tough go of it against Kenai’s patient batting, giving up nine walks alone the way. Steffensen and Zack Sullenger led the Kards by going 2 for 4 with a double each. Pettersen and Nick Beeson also had big hits, Nimcheski said, and Jakeb O’Brien notched a double.
Kenai rattled off four runs in the second inning to grab a five-run lead before Palmer could answer with two runs in the bottom of the frame. Kenai plated two more runs in the third and three in the fourth before the Moose scored another two. Kenai scored four runs in the fifth and three in the sixth to cap the game.
Wasilla 8, Soldotna 6
The Warriors prevailed Friday evening in a rematch of last year’s Southcentral Conference title game, which Wasilla also won.
The Wasilla pitching staff limited SoHi to one hit, which was given up by starter Balas Buckmester. Buckmester went 4 2-3 innings and gave up just one earned run on six walks, while also striking out six. Ben Werner, Austin Robertson and Cyrus Lovell finished the game with hitless ball, although they combined to give up four runs on five walks. Werned earned the win.
Cody Quelland took the loss in his season debut, giving up six runs — but only one earned — in 4 2-3 innings on four hits. Quelland struck out five but also walked five. Austin Asp finished the day with two unearned runs on one hit and one walk, striking out two in 1 1-3 frames.
Quelland also notched SoHi’s lone hit of the day, and stole a base.
Wasilla struck first with a run in the bottom of the second inning, but the Stars responded in the top of the third with a run to tie it. The Warriors then took matters into their own hands with five runs in the bottom of the frame, and two runs each by SoHi in the sixth and seventh innings couldn’t complete the comeback.