Kenai, Soldotna baseball will play for NLC title Saturday


The Kenai Central and Soldotna baseball teams will play for the Northern Lights Conference title in Kodiak on Saturday at 3 p.m.

Both squads qualified for Division II state, where the Stars are the two-time defending Division II champs, by making it to the final. Soldotna has now qualified for all four Division II state tourneys, while Kenai will go for the third-straight time.

Kenai (11-3 overall), the No. 2 seed from the Southern Division, defeated Kodiak, No. 4 from the south, 19-4 in the semifinal. Soldotna (16-3), No. 1 from the south, topped Houston, No. 2 from the north, 7-0 in the other semi.

In the third-place bracket, Grace, No. 4 from the north, knocked Homer (7-10), No. 3 from the south, from the tourney with an 11-7 victory. The Mariners can still earn one of the three at-large berths to state.

Also in the third-place bracket, Palmer, No. 1 from the north, defeated Redington, No. 3 from the north, 11-1.

Saturday, Palmer and Houston play at 9 a.m., and Grace and Kodiak play at noon, for the right to play in the third-place game at 6 p.m. The winner of that game also gets an automatic berth to state.

Kenai 19, Kodiak 4

The Kardinals held a 9-4 lead going into the bottom of the fourth inning, then scored 10 in that frame to end the game.

Gabe Smith pitched all four innings, giving up four unearned runs on three hits.

Brandon Blake was 2 for 3 with two runs and two RBIs for Kenai, while Zane Pellegrom scored three runs, Jacob Joanis had three RBIs, Braden Smith had two runs and three RBIs, Gabe Smith had two RBIs, Gabe Joanis had two runs and three RBIs, Avery Martin had two runs and three RBIs, and Everett Chamberlain had four runs.

Soldotna 7, Houston 0

After a dominant seven innings by Colby Sturman, Soldotna pitchers have allowed just no runs and one hit in the first two games of the tournament.

Sturman allowed just the one hit while walking two and striking out 14. He got all the run support he needed when SoHi scored twice in the first inning, once in the fourth, three times in the fifth and once in the sixth.

Sturman also helped himself by going 2 for 2 with a double, while Levi Mickelson was 2 for 3.

Grace 11, Homer 7

The Mariners pounded out 12 hits to the six of the Grizzlies but still came up short.

CJ Burns was 2 for 5 with two RBIs for Homer, while Malachi Raymond was 2 for 5, Camden Wise was 2 for 5, Christian Matthews was 2 for 4 and Preston Stanislaw scored two runs.

The three Homer pitchers combined to walk 11 batters. Stanislaw gave up four runs — two earned — on a hit in four innings, Henry Wedvik gave up six runs — one earned — on three hits in two-thirds of an inning, and Cohen Boyd gave up two runs — one earned — on two hits in 2 1-3 innings.

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