The top two seeds in the Southcentral Conference tournament will clash for the title at 7 p.m. tonight at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai.
Wasilla and Soldotna were the cream of the crop in the conference all season, with the Warriors finishing 10-0 in league and SoHi finishing 9-1, that 1 being a 7-3 loss to Wasilla.
The pair continued to rule the league in the semifinals at Seymour Park, with Wasilla defeating Homer 17-0 in five innings and SoHi topping Colony 10-7.
“It should be a good game between the two No. 1 seeds,” SoHi coach Robb Quelland said. “We did play them only once and it was a good game.
“We committed a few errors we shouldn’t have when we were still trying to figure ourselves out.”
Colony, the No. 2 seed from the Northern Division, did its best to crash the party.
SoHi took a 4-1 lead after one inning, but the Knights led 7-4 heading into the bottom of the fourth.
SoHi broke free for five runs in the bottom of the fourth and another in the fifth to clinch the win.
Trace Severson pitched 5 1-3 innings for the Knights, giving up 10 runs — nine earned — on 10 hits while walking seven and striking out two. Brett Kaughten pitched a scoreless two-thirds for Colony.
“He did really well,” Quelland said of Severson. “It took us awhile to figure him out, but once we figured him out, we came on strong.”
Holding the Knights down during the comeback was Joey Becher, who has two no-hitters this season.
Becher pitched a scoreless 3 2-3 innings, giving up a hit and no walks while whiffing three.
“It shows strength and maturity that we were able to come back,” Quelland said. “We had a choice to let it get to us or do what we are supposed to do and fight back.
“It helps to have Joey Becher on the mound.”
Cody Quelland started for SoHi, pitching two innings and giving up five unearned runs on three hits. Hunter Thompson gave up two runs — one earned — on four hits in 1 1-3 innings of work.
Calvin Hills and Cody Quelland each had two hits, while Mason Prior and Caleb Spence each had two RBIs.
For Colony, Kolten Ketchum had two hits and two runs, while Trenten Walters also had two runs.
The loser of tonight’s championship will play for second place and a state berth Saturday at 1 p.m. at Seymour Park.
The battle to play back to that game begins today at 10 a.m., when Kodiak plays Palmer at the Kenai Little League fields and Houston faces Kenai at Seymour Park.
Then at 3 p.m., the Kodiak-Palmer winner plays Colony at the Little League fields and the Houston-Kenai winner plays Homer at Seymour Park.
The winners of those games play at 10 a.m. Saturday at Seymour Park for a spot in the second-place game.
Wasilla 17, Homer 0, 5 inn.
The Warriors, the No. 1 seed from the north, tuned up for the championship game with a dominant effort against the Mariners, No. 2 from the south, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park.
Hank Boyer and Jacob Gilbert teamed up for a no-hitter, with Boyer tossing four innings and Gilbert throwing the last frame.
The Warriors had defeated Kodiak, No. 4 from the south, 2-0 earlier in the day.
“In the first game, we had some balls hit to people and the grass was knocking down other balls,” Wasilla coach Ken Ottinger said. “The boys felt they needed to prove something after that last game.”
Further stoking Wasilla’s fire was the awards process for the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year for baseball, which went to Jonny Homza of South.
Ottinger said nobody called him looking to nominate any of his players or even looking for their stats.
Nolan Monaghan was 3 for 4 with three runs, while Cyress Lovell was 2 for 3 with a walk and three runs.
Every spot in the Wasilla order scored in the game.
Colony 6, Kenai 2
Solid pitching and defense moved the Knights, the No. 2 seed from the Northern Division, past the Kardinals, No. 3 from the south.
Cooper McLaughlin went all seven innings for the win, giving up just two hits and two earned runs while walking four and striking out six.
“He’s been the guy for us all season,” Colony coach Jordan Chadwell said. “He came through for us today.”
Gavin Petterson also was solid on the mound for the Kards. He pitched six innings, giving up just three hits but six runs — one earned. He walked three, hit three and struck out four.
“We lose 6-2, but if we make some plays it would have been a lot closer,” Kenai coach John Kennedy said. “It’s hard to say if we would have won, but it wouldn’t have been 6-2.”
Kenai, the visitors, got off to a solid start when Paul Steffensen, who had both hits, singled to start the game and scored on a sacrifice fly by Petterson.
In the bottom of the second, Cooper Smith, who finished 2 for 3 with two runs and an RBI, singled and scored on a single by Zachary Satterly for a 1-all game.
One of the pivotal plays of the game came in the bottom of the third after Petterson had retired the first two batters.
Cole Doss bunted, and when Kenai’s infield was slow to rotate the second baseman to first base, Petterson threw wildly to first base and Doss made it to third.
Colony pounced for three runs and a 4-1 lead.
“Gavin is still young pitchingwise,” Kennedy said of the junior. “He lost his composure there for a bit, but he got it back and finished strong.”
Chadwell said his team’s ability to keep its composure at all times is what decided the game. McLaughlin is a senior, but he was joined on the field by four freshmen and four sophomores.
“We just tried to play as clean a game as possible,” Chadwell said. “That’s what we’ve been focusing on all season.”
Steffensen cut the lead to 4-2 by scoring on another sacrifice fly in the top of the sixth.
But in the bottom of the inning, Kolten Ketchum hit a liner with two outs and two on that center fielder Steven Norvelle couldn’t handle, leading to a 6-2 score.
Houston 0, 5 inn.
The Stars, No. 1 from the south, posted a shutout for the fifth time in six games to defeat the Hawks, No. 4 from the north, in the first round at Kenai Little League fields.
Caleb Spence went all five innings for Soldotna, yielding four hits and no runs while walking none and punching out five.
The game was at 3-0 heading into the third inning, but a five-run fourth for the Stars opened things up.
Jaycob Elliott worked all four innings for the Hawks, giving up 12 hits and 10 runs — five earned — while walking three and striking out two.
Calvin Hills and Kenny Griffin were 2 for 3 with two RBIs and a run for SoHi, while Mason Prior was 2 for 2 with two runs.
Also for the Stars, Cody Quelland had two runs and Joey Becher had a pair of RBIs.
Kolby Taylor, Jayden Elson, Reed Graham and Kade Taylor had the hits for the Hawks.
Homer 5, Palmer 4, 10 inn.
The Mariners, No. 2 from the south, pulled out the victory over Palmer, No. 3 from the north, after giving up a 4-1 lead in the seventh inning in the first round at the Kenai Little League fields.
Homer coach Rich Sonnen said both teams had golden opportunities to win the game, but Homer finally came through in the 10th inning when Kyle Johnson singled, stole second and scored on a single by Adam Brinster.
Michael Swoboda was 3 for 6 for Homer, while Brinster and Greg Smith each added two hits.
On the mound, Kyle Johnson saw his first extended action since an injury and pitched the last five innings.
Joe Ravin, Garrett Butcher and Seth Adkins each pitched two innings for Homer.
For Palmer, Cody Grogan was 3 for 5 with a run and two RBIs, while Wyatt Shults and Aaron Christiansen added two hits apiece.
Wasilla 2, Kodiak 0
The Warriors, No. 1 from the north, remained undefeated by edging the Bears, No. 4 from the south, in the first round at Coral Seymour Memorial Park.
Austin Robertson spun a gem for the Warriors, going all seven innings and giving up just one hit while walking two and striking out six.
Cyruss Lovell had both of the RBIs for the Warriors, and also had two of Wasilla’s six hits.