The Soldotna baseball team relied on two of its most experienced players to defeat Homer 6-1 Tuesday at the Soldotna Little League fields in the opener for both teams.
Senior Matthew Daugherty and junior Cody Quelland played major roles last season in helping the American Legion Twins to the fourth state title in program history.
The pair picked up right where they left off in Tuesday’s Southcentral Conference affair. Daugherty picked up the win, going five innings and giving up three hits and an unearned run while walking one and striking out six.
He also helped himself at the plate by going 2 for 3 with two RBIs. His courtesy runner also scored a run.
Quelland also played a big role in containing the Mariners offense, catching two runners stealing from the catcher position. At the plate, he was 3 for 3 with two runs scored.
A measure of Daugherty’s quality came when Mariners coach Rich Sonnen was asked about the Tuesday performance.
“He had the no-hitter against us last year, so at least we got some hits and a run off him this year,” Sonnen said. “It feels better than at the end of last season.”
Hunter Thompson finished with two scoreless innings for the Stars, allowing one hit while walking one and fanning three.
“It’s the old adage where pitching comes before hitting,” Soldotna coach Robb Quelland said. “Tonight, the pitching was on but the hitting was not as strong as we hoped.”
The Stars took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the second on Mariners starter Garrett Butcher, who would take the loss. Butcher gave up five runs — three earned — on five hits.
Daugherty started the inning by reaching on an error, then Thompson walked and Austin Asp moved both up on a sacrifice. Tanner Using then stroked a two-RBI single. Ussing would eventually score on a throwing error.
“We’ve only been on grass for two days,” Sonnen said. “We didn’t make some plays that we would normally make.”
In the third, Soldotna made it 5-0 when Quelland and Caleb Spence led off with singles. David Michael hit a sacrifice fly to score Quelland, while Daugherty knocked in Spence.
In the fifth, the Mariners cut the gap to 5-1 when Landon Bunting reached on an error and scored on an error. In the bottom of the frame, SoHi came right back to make it 6-1 when Quelland led off with a single and eventually scored on a single by Daugherty.
“They work hard in the cage,” coach Quelland said of his son and Daugherty. “Sometimes it’s unconventional, but it still works.”
Adam Brinster had 2 2-3 innings of relief for the Mariners, yielding a run on three hits while striking out two. Joe Ravin finished up with a scoreless inning for Homer.
For the Stars, Jeremy Kupferschmid reached twice, once on a double.
“It’s a good start,” Quelland said. “Homer’s a formidable program. They have a lot of Legion players and they’re well-coached.”