The Homer baseball team got five runs from batters who had reached on walks in defeating Kenai Central 10-8 on Tuesday in Southcentral Conference action at the Kenai Little League fields.
The Mariners move to 2-1 in the league and 2-2 overall. Kenai, which hosts Soldotna today at 6:30 p.m., falls to 2-2 in the league and 2-2 overall.
“The freebies that scored, that’s what hurt us today,” Kenai coach John Kennedy said.
While walks, liners and grounders would eventually decide the game, it didn’t start off that way.
After Homer went 1-2-3 in the first, Kenai leadoff hitter Paul Steffensen greeted Homer starter Garrett Butcher with a towering blast over the fence in right center in an impressive display of opposite-field power. Jakeb O’Brien, Connor Jones and Sam Combs also would score as Homer had two errors in the inning.
“It looked like we were in for a rough day,” Homer coach Rich Sonnen said. “It was (Butcher’s) first time on the mound this season and we wanted to get him some innings. He was able to settle in.”
Butcher would pitch six innings, giving up eight runs — six earned — on eight hits, while striking out three and walking three.
The Mariners also went down in order in the top of the second, bringing up the bottom of the order in the third inning.
Joe Ravin, who would walk in all four of his plate appearances and score twice, started the three-run rally in the third with a walk.
Kenai starter Gavin Petterson gave up just three hits and struck out four in 3 1-3 innings, but yielded six runs — four earned — after walking six.
“He was good,” Sonnen said of Petterson. “He threw harder than anyone we’ve seen this season, although we’ve only played a few games.
“He shut us down the first few innings, then we got more patient.”
In addition to the work of No. 7 hitter Ravin, No. 5 hitter Woape Huffman was 2 for 3 with three runs, No. 6 hitter Butcher had a double and a run and No. 8 hitter Seth Adkins was 2 for 3 with a run and four RBIs.
“I’m very happy with the bottom of the order,” Sonnen said. “The bottom of the order was hitting line drives and ground balls, while the top of the order was hitting fly balls.”
Homer led 10-5 after 5 1-2 innings, but Kenai tightened things up in the bottom of the sixth.
Levi Mese, who Kennedy said had solid plate appearances, led off with a walk and scored on a one-out single from Jakeb O’Brien. Petterson singled to score O’Brien, then Connor Jones followed with a double to bring Petterson home for a 10-8 game.
Kennedy said he was very happy with the offense, including a situational-baseball run that came in the fourth when Steffensen doubled, was moved to third on a grounder by O’Brien and scored on a sac fly by Petterson.
The Kenai coach also said Taylor Landry did a good job at catcher despite his inexperience at the position.
“The kids are getting better and that’s the important thing,” Kennedy said. “Winning games in the regular season is great, but it all comes down to what happens at the region tournament.”
Jones relieved Petterson and gave up four runs on eight hits in 3 2-3 innings, walking two and striking out one.
Greg Smith slammed the door for the Mariners in the seventh inning. The catcher, who just started pitching this season, struck out the side with a series of low, hard fastballs.
“That’s exactly what we wanted to get from him,” Sonnen said.