In a wacky Southcentral Conference baseball tournament in Homer, one trend was solid — power gravitated to the north.
Palmer personified both traits of the tournament, winning the conference title Friday night as the No. 7 seed 10-7 over No. 4 seed Colony in eight innings.
The Moose nabbed the conference’s first state berth, while Colony also is going to state after defeating No. 6 Grace 14-5 in the second-place game. Grace advanced to the second-place game early Saturday by knocking off No. 3 Wasilla 3-0.
In earlier semifinal action Friday, Palmer topped Grace 17-4 and Colony knocked off top-seeded Kodiak 3-1.
The Nos. 1, 2 and 5 seeds didn’t even make it to the final day of the tournament, meaning No. 2 Homer and No. 5 Soldotna saw their seasons end.
Homer went down 11-1 in six innings to Wasilla on Friday morning. The Warriors would then defeat Kodiak 10-2 to advance to the second-place semifinal.
Douglas Dean had a double for Homer, while Seth Adkins, Mose Hayes, Kyle Wells and Harrison Metz had singles.
On the mound, Hayes gave up eight runs — seven earned — on nine hits while walking two and whiffing four in four innings, while Adkins gave up three runs — two earned — on two hits while walking two and striking out two in two innings.
Soldotna advanced in the tournament Friday morning by defeating No. 9 seed Houston 21-2 in five innings, but then the Stars lost 11-1 to the Grizzlies in five innings as Grace gained the second-place semifinal.
“That’s the story of our season,” Soldotna coach Robb Quelland said. “We either look like we’re the best team on the field or we don’t show up.
“It’s one of those things where a coach questions and ponders how he could have done better or what he could have done.”
In the rout over Houston, Quelland got four pitchers work to save arms for the rest of the tournament. Logan Smith gave up an unearned run in an inning, Hunter Thompson threw a scoreless inning, Jake Marcuson went a scoreless 1 2-3 innings and Ian Reger went a scoreless 1 1-3 innings.
At the plate, the Stars mashed out 10 hits with David Michael leading the way at 2 for 3 with three runs and five RBIs. Also, Brandon Crowder was 2 for 4 with three runs and two RBIs, Hunter Thompson was 2 for 3, Jeremy Kupferschmid had four runs and two RBIs, Foster Boze had two runs, Cody Quelland had two runs and three RBIs, Tanner Ussing knocked in two, Ian Reger had a hit, Smith scored twice, Jack Marcuson knocked in three and Trapper Thompson scored twice.
Against Grace, SoHi got just four hits, with Smith getting two and Hunter Thompson and Trapper Thompson each getting one. Tobin Karlberg went all five innings for Grace, yielding just an unearned run.
Meanwhile, the Grizzlies banged out 12 hits. Quelland pitched three innings and gave up nine runs — six earned, while walking four and striking out one. Hunter Thompson pitched the final two innings, giving up two runs — one earned — while walking three and whiffing one.
It was the last game for eight seniors.
“I had the pleasure of coaching some of these young men for almost 10 years now,” Quelland said, who added he appreciated all the fans that traveled to Homer. “They’re more than players, they’re family.”
Cody Quelland was the conference’s MVP, while Brandon Crowder also made first-team all-conference. The Stars have two of the last four MVPs, with Joey Becher earning the honor two years ago.
Southcentral Conference awards
MVP — Cody Quelland, Soldotna.
Coach of the Year — Jason Fox, Kodiak.
First team — Brandon Crowder, Soldotna; James Arend, Wasilla; Ben Werner, Wasilla; Austin Robertson, Wasilla; Luke Guggenmos, Palmer; Shawn Walton, Kodiak; Joe Ravin, Homer; Mose Hayes, Homer; Jimmy McGovern, Grace; Joe Ryan, Colony; Kolten Ketchum, Colony.
Second team — Clayton Boyett, Wasilla; Kyle Graham, Wasilla; Skyler Hale, Palmer; Brady Shults, Palmer; Kalen Huddleston, Palmer; Chase Good, Kodiak; Louis Rocheleau, Kodiak; Anders Hocum, Kodiak; Knox Amend, Kenai; Noah Plumb, Houston; Hayden Chivers, Houston; Matt Thompson, Grace; Steven Brown, Grace; Cooper Smith, Colony; Trace Severson, Colony; Zach Satterly, Colony.
Good sport team — Daniel Ayers, Colony; Parker Hovila, Grace; Spencer Warren, Homer; Eli Benson, Houston; Carlos Caballero, Kenai; AJ Barton, Kodiak; Kalen Huddleston, Palmer; Ian Reger, Soldotna; Jacob Gilbert, Wasilla.