Colony baseball tops Kenai Central

The Colony baseball team jumped out to a 4-0 lead on Kenai Central after the top of the first inning and held on for a 9-5 Southcentral Conference victory Friday at the Kenai Little League fields.

Colony moved to 5-1 in the league and 5-4 overall with the win, while the Kards dropped to 1-5 in the league and overall.

Logan Sanders keyed the victory for the Knights, going 2 for 3 with two runs and an RBI at the plate, and shutting down the Kardinals over the final two innings on the mound.

Colony was up 9-2 heading into the bottom of the sixth, but pitcher Hunter Hill found trouble when Ellery Steffensen led off with a double, Nate O’Lena walked and Sam Combs singled to score the pair, then moved up to second on the throw to the plate.

Knights head coach Jordan Chadwell removed Hill in favor of Sanders.

“He’s a team captain and he was being really vocal in the dugout,” Chadwell said. “I knew he wanted the win, so I brought him in to finish it out.”

Sanders got out of the sixth inning by retiring the only three batters he faced, although Kenai did score to cut the gap to 9-5 on a Tanner Wortham grounder.

In the seventh, Sanders slammed the door by walking leadoff batter Jakeb O’Brien, but then picking him off, and retiring the final two batters of the game.

For Kenai Central head coach John Kennedy, the game was a step in the right direction for a team that has just three three-year players and no four-year players.

“Jordan just said, ‘You are getting better,’” Kennedy said. “We got an education tonight but we are getting better.”

The Kards learned how costly walks can be. Kenai pitchers walked six batters and four of those walks came around to score.

Kenai’s Sam Combs took the loss in working the first two innings. He gave up five runs and three of his five walks came around to score.

“The walks were what hurt us in the first few innings,” Kennedy said.

Ellery Steffensen kept the Knights off the board in the third, fourth and fifth innings as Kenai tried to claw its way back. But the Kards’ comeback was thwarted by missed opportunities, and Kenai left 11 runners on base.

In the fourth, Kenai had runners and first and third when Combs hit a screamer to third that ended the inning. In the fifth, the Kards loaded the bases with one out but Kenai flew twice to center, including a liner by Paul Steffensen.

“We had some hard-hit balls that turned into outs,” Kennedy said. “We did not have any luck that way.”

Brandon Jakiemiec pitched the first three innings for Colony, giving up a run on two hits, while Hill pitched two innings and gave up four runs — three earned — on three hits.

The Knights got some crucial insurance runs in the top of the sixth off Ellery Steffensen when the Kenai pitcher gave up his only four runs of the game. But three of those runs were unearned due to an error by Paul Steffensen, who pitched a scoreless seventh.

Kennedy praised the Steffensens for the immense improvement they made over the summer. In his capacity as an assistant coach for the Peninsula Oilers, Kennedy would see the two chasing down foul balls at Coral Seymour Memorial Park. They would then put those balls to use for batting and pitching practice over the summer at the Little League fields.

“You don’t see anybody else doing that,” Kennedy said. “It’s too bad they didn’t start playing until last year. They’re talented and they’ve come a long way in a short period of time.”

Chadwell said a big plus for his squad in this game came from the play of catcher Sam Reed, a freshman. The coach said Reed proved he can handle himself behind the plate, meaning Jakiemiec can be moved to outfield, his natural position.

The biggest disappointment for Chadwick came with Colony’s performance with runners in scoring position, continuing a trend that cost the Knights a recent 3-2 loss to Wasilla where 12 runners were left on base.

Jakiemiec was 1 for 1 with a run, while Stephen Sreheinak had a run, hit and RBI, and Mill had a double and a run.

For the Kards, Combs was 2 for 4 with two RBIs, and Tanner Wortham was 2 for 2 with an RBI, reaching all four times he came to the plate. Also for the Kards, Nate O’Lena had two runs and Zach Koziczkowski reached base twice by getting hit by pitches — one on a ball that hit him in the head. On the head shot, the reigning medium-schools football Lineman of the Year did not flinch and casually flipped his bat aside and jogged to first, showing no ill effects.

Wasilla 16, Kenai 3

The Warriors jumped out to a 10-1 lead after two innings to defeat the Kards on Saturday at the Kenai Little League fields in six innings.

Wasilla moves to 8-1 in the league, while Kenai is 1-6 in the league and overall.

Paul Steffensen got the start and yielded 10 runs — four earned — in 1 2-3 innings. Nate O’Lena then gave up six runs — one earned — in 2 2-3 innings, while Levi Mese pitched a scoreless two-thirds of an inning.

On offense, Paul Steffensen had a run, Ellery Steffensen had an RBI and a run, O’Lena had a hit and a run, Taylor Landry had a hit and an RBI, and Tanner Wortham had an RBI.

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