Kenai Peninsula baseball teams will have to come back through the second-place bracket if they want to earn state berths at the Southcentral Conference baseball tournament, which is being held Thursday through Saturday at Redington and Houston high schools.
Soldotna, the No. 6 seed, was sent into the second-place bracket by losing 4-3 to No. 3 Kodiak. Homer, the No. 7 seed, also lost in the first round, falling 9-2 to No. 2 Colony. Kenai Central, the No. 8 seed, defeated No. 9 Redington 11-1 in five innings, but then lost to No. 1 Wasilla 23-3 in five innings.
Today, Homer and Soldotna meet at 10 a.m. at Houston to stay alive in the tournament. Kenai meets Grace at 1 p.m. at Houston in another loser-out game. All the local teams would have to win their next four games to go to state.
Kodiak 4, Soldotna 3
The Bears scored all four of their runs in the fifth inning to take down the Stars.
In a game where each team got three hits, Soldotna coach Robb Quelland said a few players were the difference in Kodiak beating his team for the fourth time in four tries this season.
“It wasn’t even a bad inning, it was just a few bad plays,” Quelland said of the fifth inning. “Just a mental breakdown or two.
“It’s the fourth time we played them and you can’t allow mistakes, because they’re generally mistake-free.”
Jeremy Kupferschmid got the start for the Stars and went four scoreless innings, giving up a hit and a walk while striking out four. Chris Jaime then pitched one-third of an inning, giving up two hits and four runs, but just one was earned. Jaime walked one and struck out one.
Josh Pieh pitched 1 2-3 scoreless and hitless innings, walking one and striking out none.
“Pitching was not the problem today,” Quelland said.
David Michael, Trapper Thompson and Pieh had the hits for Soldotna, with Michael scoring two runs and Boze scoring one. RBIs went to Tanner Ussing, Thompson and Pieh.
Soldotna had graduation Wednesday night, meaning the team had to get up and travel to a 1 p.m. game at Redington.
“We didn’t hit when we should have hit,” Quelland said. “There’s no excuses.”
The coach said he still feels good about the team’s chances to win four straight and make state.
“We’ll just get a good night’s rest and some food in their bellies and we’ll be right back on track,” he said.
Kenai 11, Redington 1, 5 innings
When the team got together in February, senior leader Knox Amend set getting a victory at the conference tournament as a goal.
The Kardinals made it happen with a solid effort on the mound from Parker Mattox and an all-around solid game on offense.
Mattox went all five innings, giving up an earned run on three hits while striking out 10 and hitting a batter.
“He pitched against Redington the first time and beat them,” Kenai coach Luke Oliver said. “I knew he’d be confident going into the game.
“He’s just gotten better and better all season.”
Amend was 2 for 2, while Nick Wehrstein was 2 for 3, to lead the way on offense. In the fifth, Wehrstein had a triple, then scored on a throwing error, to invoke the mercy rule.
Also for Kenai, Harold Ochea was 1 for 3, Simon Grenier was 1 for 3, Sam Berry was 1 for 3, Mattox was 1 for 3 and Caleb Smith was 1 for 2. Oliver also said Ben Spinka made some nice plays running the bases.
Wasilla 23, Kenai 3, 5 innings
The Warriors made quick work of the Kardinals.
“Wasilla’s a good-hitting team and a well-coached team,” Oliver said. “They’re the No. 1 seed for a reason.”
Ochea, Grenier and Mattox pitched. Oliver said when you mix in a few mistakes against the powerful bats of the Warriors, the score gets out of hand quickly.
Ochea was 2 for 3 with two doubles, while Spinka was 1 for 3 and Xander Amend was 1 for 1 with two runs.
Colony 9, Homer 2
After trailing 3-1 in the fourth inning, Homer gave up three in the fifth and three in the sixth to lose touch with the Knights.
Mose Hayes pitched all six innings, giving up nine runs — five earned — on eight hits while striking out seven.
Seth Adkins was 2 for 3 with two RBIs, while Harrison Metz was 1 for 3, Austin Ceccarelli was 1 for 3, Hayes was 1 for 3 and Austin Dash was 1 for 3.
Homer 15, Redington 5, 6 innings
Homer bounced back from its loss to Colony with a 15-5 win over host Redington during elimination action on the first day of the tourney.
Johnny Rummery, a junior varsity player, pitched all six innings and gave up five runs — three earned — on three hits while striking out three and walking four.
Metz was 1 for 4, Ceccarelli was 2 for 3, Adkins was 4 for 4, Hayes was 2 for 4, Colby Marion was 2 for 3, Rummery was 1 for 3 and Hunter Warren was 1 for 3 for Homer.
“I was a little worried trying to get by Redington without using starting pitching, but we did it,” Homer coach Rich Sonnen said. “Now it’s the fight to stay alive.