The Soldotna Stars had trouble stopping the Wasilla Warriors in a 12-1 loss Thursday in a Southcentral Conference baseball clash.
The Warriors plated six runs in the fifth inning to end the game prematurely after five frames due to the run rule, kicking off their weekend trip to the peninsula with a win to lift their season record to 2-0 in conference play and 9-2 overall.
Soldotna dropped to 1-1 in conference, 1-5 overall, but head coach Robb Quelland chalked it up to playing a very talented program with a history of winning.
“To beat Wasilla, you have to play basically a perfect game,” Quelland said. “And obviously we did not.”
Wasilla sophomore Nolan Murphy really opened up the game with a three-run homer crushed over the left centerfield fence, pushing Wasilla’s lead to 9-0 following the shot offered up by SoHi reliever Davey Belger.
“In Little League, he’s always had some pop to his bat,” said Wasilla head coach Ken Ottinger. “But he’s been one of our guys who’s improving and working on the little mechanics of his swing.
“Our whole lineup has just been on fire lately.”
Belger gave up six runs in one frame of relief on five hits and a walk. SoHi senior Jeremy Kupferschmid went four innings before being pulled and gave up six runs on three hits and three walks and five strikeouts.
Murphy ended up 2 for 3 on the day, while SoHi’s David Michael batted 2 for 3 as well. Belger and Kupferschmid each tallied a base hit as well.
Quelland said he liked seeing SoHi start the game strong with a scoreless first inning, a home run robbery by center fielder Trapper Thompson in the second and in general driving up Wasilla starter Jacob Gilbert’s pitch count.
But mistakes soon began to pile up for the Stars.
“We started having too many simple errors,” Quelland said. “I can’t even classify them as aggressive or challenging errors, they were errors we shouldn’t have made.”
Gilbert pitched a one-hitter with four scoreless innings and six strikeouts. Carter Huston finished the final inning for Wasilla, giving up a run on three hits.
Quelland said the revolving door of tough pitchers the Stars have seen early in the season has left the team with poor results, but more importantly has provided a good test for the younger hitters.
“This wasn’t us,” Quelland said. “This is an anomaly. We’re a better team than this … we just lacked that energy to battle back when we needed to.”
Wasilla scored in the second, third and fourth innings and led 6-0 before Murphy’s blast. A.J. Camacho put Wasilla on the board in the second with an RBI single, but SoHi got out of the inning without further damage thanks to a catch at the outfield fence by Thompson to rob Murphy of a home run.
Clancy O’Donnell reached on a grounder to third that went wide on the throw to first, scoring a second run for Wasilla, then Camacho came up big again for the Warriors with a two-run rip down the third-base line that glanced off the glove of Davey Belger. The error pushed Wasilla’s lead to 4-0.
Wasilla put runners on the corners with two out but Kupferschmid struck out Jacob Hanson to end the inning, and was pulled after that.
David Michael led off the bottom of the third with a single but was picked off on a rundown between first and second, and SoHi was unable to produce anything else that inning.
Wasilla tacked on two more runs in the top of the fourth on a throwing error by Michael following a ground-ball by Gilbert, then on another throwing error by Belger on a ground-ball by Byson Malave, pushing the lead to 6-0.
Trailing 12-0 in the bottom of the fifth, SoHi finally woke up with a pinch-hit leadoff double by Brennen Werner, an infield single by Belger and a pop fly by Kupferschmid that landed between several Wasilla fielders in shallow center field to score a run. Michael continued the assault with a double ripped down the left-field line, but Kupferschmid was thrown out at home plate to save a run for Wasilla. Tanner Ussing eventually popped out to end the game.
SoHi will host the Colony Knights Friday at 6 p.m.
Homer 15, Houston 0, 3 inn.
The host Mariners ended the Southcentral Conference game by leading 15-0 after three innings, then two more innings were played to give players more opportunity.
Homer is now 4-1 overall and 1-0 in the league.
Mose Hayes pitched the first three innings, striking out seven and giving up no runs and no hits. Coda Wood pitched the next two, striking out three and giving up three runs.
Hunter Warren was 3 for 3, Austin Ceccarelli was 2 for 3, Harrison Metz was 3 for 3, Hayes was 2 for 3, Wood was 3 for 4 and Austin Dash was 2 for 3.