SoHi wins, Kenai loses at state baseball

Soldotna started the Division II state baseball tournament in Wasilla with a 15-1 victory over Grace Christian in five innings, while Kenai lost 7-3 to North Pole.

Dylan Davidhizer had his second no-hitter of the season for the Stars. Davidhizer also opened up the Southcentral Conference tournament on May 26 with a no-hitter in five innings in a 15-0 victory over Redington. Davidhizer also was 2 for 4 with two runs and two RBIs.

The Stars play North Pole today in the semifinals, while the Kardinals play Grace in the fourth-place bracket at 11 a.m.

On the other side of the bracket, Kodiak knocked off Palmer 4-3. Palmer is the defending state champion and just won the Southcentral Conference tournament by defeating Kenai. Petersburg also defeated Monroe Catholic 19-6.

Soldotna coach Ken Gibson said the starting pitcher in the first game is really important. If the pitcher does not come through, the coach must quickly start using up other pitchers, making the rest of the tournament tougher.

“What a great two games he gave us,” Gibson said of Davidhizer. “He’s really set us up for where we want to be.”

Soldotna took a 7-1 lead after one inning against Grace, then really put the game out of reach with a seven-run fourth inning. The Stars were able to walk 10 times and get big hits.

“We were able to steal pretty much when we wanted,” Gibson said. “That helps when you don’t have to bunt to move runners over.”

Gibson said that shows just what a weapon Jacob Belger is at catcher.

“He makes our guys look so good,” Gibson said. “He’s a wall back there. Guys have such trust in him. They can throw any pitch and know it won’t get through him.

“Teams don’t steal on us because they know he has a cannon for an arm.”

Jacob Belger scored two runs for the Stars, while Levi Mickelson had three runs, Andrew Pieh had two runs, Atticus Gibson had two runs and three RBIs, Gavin Jones had two runs, Riley Johnson had two runs and two RBIs, and Derrick Jones was 2 for 3 with two RBIs.

“Up and down the order, we’ve been strong,” Gibson said. “If one part of the order is not doing well, the other part steps up. It’s been fun.”

Riley Johnson will get the start today against North Pole. Gibson said the Patriots are like Soldotna. They have been really good at the Division II level, but have had trouble against Division I competition.

North Pole 7, Kenai 3

The Patriots, the No. 1 seed out of the Mid Alaska Conference, scored five runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to top the Kards, No. 3 out of the Southcentral Conference.

“We had a couple little mental breakdowns,” Kenai coach Luke Oliver said. “We had a couple people playing different positions because we lost a couple starters for this weekend. We’ve got a couple people trying to step into new positions and they’re doing a good job stepping into those positions.”

Oliver said Braden Smith, who was 1 for 3 with two RBIs, had a big hit in the top of the first inning as Kenai left the first inning leading 3-1.

It would stay that way until the pivotal bottom of the fifth. Gabe Smith gave up six runs for the Kards, while Johnny Brinner yielded one.

“He absolutely did a good job of hitting the zone,” Oliver said of Smith. “It was pretty similar to Palmer at regions. They got some timely hits with runners in scoring position and that pushed them over us.”

The Kardinals had five hits while striking out seven times, making three errors and leaving eight on base.

“We were putting the ball in the air more,” Oliver said. “We’re typically more of a ground ball team. We put it in the air and we were not finding any holes or gaps.”

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