The bats came through when Soldotna needed it most and the Stars held on for a 10-5 win Wednesday over Homer at the Soldotna Little League fields.
In a crucial Southcentral Conference meeting with just days left in the regular season, SoHi improved to 2-4 in conference and 3-11 overall, while Homer dropped to 1-5 in conference, 5-7 overall. SoHi split the season series against Homer, following on a 7-3 Homer win on May 8.
Mistakes and errors have dogged the Stars all season long, but Soldotna coach Robb Quelland credited cleaner defense and less mistakes — plus a productive lineup that kept the bases full — in keeping SoHi ahead Wednesday.
“We’re just trying to find a lineup that we think is going to play well together,” Quelland said. “There’s a lot of surprises.”
Included in that second-half part of the lineup is No. 5 hitter Trapper Thompson, who hit 2 for 3 with a walk and two runs, and No. 7 hitter Trenton Steadman, who went 3 for 4 with a double. SoHi slugger David Michael hit 2 for 2 as well.
The Stars also celebrated senior night, recognizing seniors Jeremy Kupferschmid, David Michael, Brennen Werner and Trapper Thompson.
Kupferschmid got the start on the mound and pitched 2 2-3 innings before being pulled for Chris Jaime, who went 4 2-3 innings, giving up just a single run in a superb relief effort. Atticus Gibson recorded the final two outs to seal the win for SoHi.
“He comes in with very little experience in that role, but he’s come along strong for us,” Quelland said about Jaime.
Homer’s Seth Adkins started for Homer and pitched the first two frames, giving up seven runs before Austin Ceccerelli entered for 2 1-3 frames. Ceccerelli gave up two runs, and Harrison Metz finished the final 2 2-3 innings for Homer with just one run allowed.
SoHi did most of its damage in the bottom of the second, scoring six runs highlighted by a three-run double by Trapper Thompson.
“Just another part of the middle of our lineup that came through tonight,” Quelland said.
The Stars loaded the bases with no outs on a Homer error and two singles by Jacob and Davey Belger. Michael tied the game at 2-all on a line drive single to left field, then Tanner Ussing put SoHi ahead 3-2 on an RBI single. A bases-loaded walk by Jacob Boze scored another run before Thompson’s bases-clearing double really opened it up to 7-2.
Ultimately, SoHi brought 10 batters to the plate before the Mariners could end the inning.
“There’s a couple of walks there that led to the bases being loaded,” said Homer head coach Rich Sonnen. “We dug ourselves into a hole there, and then an error. That’s the way it goes.”
Sonnen said the team’s hitting slump in recent weeks has forced the Mariners to generate runs in other ways, including aggressive baserunning.
“We kind of got too aggressive on the bases at times, and ran into a few outs,” he said. “I sent a guy from third, tagged up from third, and then another time our guy tripped from third.”
It was the first inning with Homer up 2-0 when Mose Hayes tripped on his way to home plate after a throw from SoHi catcher Jacob Boze got away and into left field. Hayes was clear to score, but was unable to score after falling on the base path and was tagged out to end the inning.
Homer got back two runs in the top of the third on a wild pitch by Kupferschmid and an RBI ground-out.
The Stars defense showed up in the top of the fourth when a flyout by Ceccerelli was caught by Jacob Belger in right field, who then threw home to double up the runner tagging up to score. Boze caught Homer baserunner Karl Wickstrom at home plate for the second out in a huge double play.