The Wasilla baseball team finished a dominant tour of the central Kenai Peninsula on Friday with a 14-0 Southcentral Conference victory over Kenai Central in five innings at the Kenai Little League fields.
The Warriors (10-2 overall, 3-0 in the league) were coming off a 12-1 victory over Soldotna on Thursday.
“I’m very happy with them,” Wasilla head coach Ken Ottinger said. “They came down and did their job. I can be a perfectionist, but I’m very happy with them.”
Ottinger said there were a few mental lapses that he didn’t like, but other than that there was a lot to like.
The Warriors committed just one error as pitchers Carter Huston and Trenten Walters combined for the shutout.
“They did their job and pounded the strike zone,” Ottinger said.
Huston worked the first three innings, allowing just two hits while whiffing five and walking one. Walters registered two hitless and walkless innings, striking out two.
The Warriors also hit all the right notes on offense, working 13 walks while piling up seven hits. Wasilla also executed some of the finer points of offensive baseball, for instance hitting three sacrifice flies.
“All the guys did their job, one through nine,” said Ottinger, adding he loves how quickly his lineup is coming together. “They’re learning the offensive side of baseball, things like moving the runner over and taking the selfishness out of baseball.”
Clayton Boyett was 3 for 3 with four runs and two RBIs, while Nolan Murphy was 2 for 4 with two runs and an RBI, Jacob Hansen had two runs and Jacob Gilbert had two runs and three RBIs.
In addition to playing baseball, Ottinger said the trip was a great chance to bond with things like a trip to the Kenai River on Friday.
“We’re really focused on building brotherhood this year,” Ottinger said. “That can be more important than baseball.”
Kenai Central head coach Luke Oliver said taking on the powerful Wasilla program was a tough task for his inexperienced squad, which stands at 0-4 overall and 0-3 in the league.
“I told them that we needed to come into this game ready to play,” Oliver said. “Wasilla is a well-coached team and they always come to play no matter who they are playing.
“I thought we came ready to play and fought hard.”
Despite the final score, the Kardinals were in the game early, trailing 2-0 after two innings and 6-0 after three innings.
In the fourth inning, things started to get out of hand when Kardinals pitchers walked six straight batters as Wasilla struck for five runs. Oliver has focused on getting his pitchers to throw strikes, but he said Wasilla can make it tough.
“Sometimes when you’re facing a bigger, better team you can get a little more nervous,” Oliver said. “As they mature, hopefully they’ll eliminate that.”
Harold Ochea, Parker Mattox, Caleb Smith and Simon Grenier pitched for Kenai. Oliver also said Nick Wehrstein did all that could be asked of him in catching his first varsity game.
On offense, Ochea and Smith had the hits for the Kardinals.
Colony 11, Kenai Central 0
Kenai coach Luke Oliver said it was another game in which the lopsided final score masked progress.
“We either have good pitching and our defense struggles or poor pitching and our defense does well,” he said. “If we put the two together, especially by regions, we should be competitive.”
Saturday, the defense struggled as the Kards fell to 0-4 in the Southcentral Conference and 0-5 overall.
Parker Mattox got the start and went four innings, giving up four hits and five runs, but just one was earned.
“We had eight errors in total, and that hurt us big time today,” Oliver said.
Kenai went into the seventh inning trailing 5-0, and just one run was earned at that point.
Caleb Smith worked 2 1-3 innings for Kenai, giving up six runs (five earned). Sam Berry got the final two outs.
On offense, Kenai had five hits, with Simon Grenier going 2 for 3 and Berry, Smith and J.T. Lott each going 1 for 3, with Smith collecting a double.
“We were putting the ball in play, but Colony was making plays,” Oliver said.
Colony 11, Soldotna 2
The Colony Knights scored six runs in the fourth inning to break open a tight game with Soldotna for a Southcentral Conference victory Friday evening in Soldotna.
Tanner Ussing provided a spark for SoHi with a two-run homer in the third inning, but that would be all the offense the Stars mustered over seven innings. SoHi dropped to 1-2 in conference play and 1-6 overall.
Ussing got the start on the mound for SoHi and lasted 3 2/3 innings, giving up seven earned runs on eight walks and eight hits, while striking out two.
Trapper Thompson failed to record an out in relief for Ussing and gave up a run on two hits and two walks, and Chris Jaime finished the final 3 1-3 frames with just one run on one hit and two walks.
Trace Severson pitched a complete game for Colony with seven strikeouts, scattering six hits and issuing three walks.
Colony scored three times in the second inning to take a 4-0 lead, but SoHi got two runs back in the bottom of the third. Colony scored all three runs in the second inning on SoHi mistakes, as Bryant Marks came home on a wild pitch by Ussing, and Ben Alley and Trace Severson scored on fielding errors.
SoHi cut the lead to 4-2 on Ussing’s two-run blast to center field.
In Colony’s six-run fourth inning, the Knights brought 12 batters to the plate and scored all six with two outs. Zach Satterly got the party started with a two-run homer to left field, and the next seven players reached on either walks or singles. Evan Walker and Kaden Ketchum each had two-run singles that pushed the lead to 10-2 before it was all done.
Grace Christian 9, Soldotna 7
The visiting Grizzlies dropped the Stars to 1-3 in the league and 1-7 overall.
Soldotna got off to a good start, taking a 3-0 lead after the first inning. Grace rapidly came back, scoring six runs in the second inning, two runs in the fourth inning and a run in the sixth inning.
Davey Belger got the start for SoHi and worked three innings, giving up 10 hits and eight runs — five earned. Belger walked four and struck out one.
Atticus Gibson finished for Soldotna, going four innings and giving up a run on two hits while walking one and striking out three.
The Soldotna defense committed eight errors to make life tougher for the pitchers.
The Stars did mount a rally late, scoring four runs in the seventh inning to account for the final score. Soldotna had the bases loaded when the final out was made.
SoHi had four hits in the game — from David Michael, Tanner Ussing, Jacob Boze and Trapper Thompson. Jeremy Kupferschmid, Michael and Ussing each scored two runs, while Ussing also had a pair of RBIs.
For Grace, Josh McGovern was 3 for 4 with two runs and two RBIs, while Nick Pope was 2 for 3 with two runs and Steven Brown and Parker Hovila were each 2 for 3.
Grace Christian 11, Soldotna 8
The Grizzlies toppled the Stars in a nonconference contest to drop Soldotna to 1-8 overall.
Errors were once again costly for the Stars, as five miscues led to all of Grace’s runs being unearned.
Josh Pieh started for the Stars and went 5 1-3 innings, giving up five unearned runs on nine hits while walking none and striking out three.
Seth Payment and Gavin Brennan each recorded outs for the Stars, with Payment giving up a hit and two unearned runs and Brennan giving up two hits without a run.
Soldotna had five hits — one each from Camron Presley, David Michael, Brennan, Atticus Gibson and Simon Graham. Presley had a pair of RBIs.
Grace Christian 8, Homer 6
The Grizzlies escaped with a Southcentral Conference win in eight innings Friday night in Homer, dropping the Mariners to 1-1 in conference, 4-2 overall this year.
Homer led 6-4 after five innings on a two-run double by Mose Hayes, but Grace came bak to tie it with a run in each the sixth and seventh innings.
In the top of the eighth, Grace took the lead on a two-run double by Nick Pope, and Homer was unable to mount a comeback in the bottom of the frame.
Homer starter Harrison Metz tossed an efficient eight innings with 106 pitches, according to Homer head coach Rich Sonnen. Metz gave up six earned runs on 11 hits and two walks, while whiffing two.
“He was pitching to contact and letting the defense work,” Sonnen said. “It was good to see Harrison go eight innings.”
Earlier in the game, Seth Adkins cracked a two-run double for Homer in the first inning, followed by an RBI groundout by Austin Ceccarelli to put the Mariners up 3-1.
Grace came back with three runs in the third to take a 4-3 lead, but Homer tied it in the bottom of the frame on a passed ball run by Hunter Warren.
Palmer 6, Homer 5
The host Mariners had a comeback attempt come up just short in dropping the Southcentral Conference contest Saturday.
Homer is now 1-2 in the league and 4-3 overall.
“It was good for us to play the defending region champs close,” Homer coach Rich Sonnen said. “We were running low on gas, but we hung in there.”
Homer has 16 players in its program and had a game with Redington on Thursday, then two with Grace on Friday.
The Moose led 1-0 after the first, but Homer had a 3-1 lead in the fourth. A big fifth inning put the Moose up 6-3. Homer had two runs in the seventh and had the bases loaded when the comeback stalled.
Mose Hayes pitched the first five innings for Homer, giving up six runs (five earned) on five hits while walking three. Seth Adkins pitched the final two innings, giving up two hits and no runs.
Adkins was 3 for 3 for Homer, while Harrison Metz was 1 for 4, Hayes was 1 for 4, Austin Ceccarelli was 1 for 3, Jack Strydom was 1 for 2 and Karl Wickstrom was 1 for 2.