The season kept rolling for the Kenai Central baseball team Wednesday with a 7-3 victory over rivals Soldotna at the Kenai Little League fields.
Kenai right-hander Gavin Petterson earned the win on the mound with a complete seven-inning effort. Petterson gave up one earned run on seven hits and four walks, while striking out two.
Caleb Spence took the loss for SoHi with four innings, giving up all seven runs on eight hits, but struck out three without giving up a walk. SoHi reliever Austin Asp finished the final two frames with shutout play, giving up one hit, two walks and striking out one.
After giving up two runs to error in the first inning, the home team Kardinals rallied back in the bottom of the third. Paul Steffensen led off with a double that bounced off the center field wall, then advanced to third on a steal. Jakeb O’Brien’s single brought Steffensen home to tie it up at 2 apiece.
Knox Amend then brought O’Brien home to give Kenai a 3-2 lead, which they never gave up.
The floodgates opened in the fifth, as an RBI double by Nick Beeson and a two-run single by O’Brien put the Kardinals up 7-2.
David Michael knocked in a run on a single in the top of the seventh, but the Stars could not complete the big rally.
Steffensen finished 2 for 3 with two runs, while Petterson also finished 2 for 3.
Spence went 2 for 4 from the plate to lead SoHi’s effort. Overall, Kenai outhit Soldotna 9 to 7.
Officially, the Kardinals improve to 7-1 overall, but are undefeated in actual competition. Hours before Wednesday’s game was due to start, the Alaska School Activities Association handed Kenai a forfeit that stems from a game with Homer last week. The game will go down as a loss on Kenai’s otherwise pristine record.
The controversy boils down to a mistake in the pitch count numbers of Kardinals starter Petterson. ASAA has enforced new rules this year dictating how many pitches a player can throw with a corresponding number of mandatory rest days that are required.
In an April 28 game against Palmer, Petterson started and threw 109 pitches according to Palmer’s home scorebook, which is the official book on record, meaning Petterson was required to stay off the mound for four days.
Kenai Central head coach Steve Nimcheski stated that Kenai counted Petterson at 95 pitches in the Palmer game, meaning Petterson only needed a three-day rest. Petterson next pitched in a May 2 meeting against Homer, which Kenai won, but the Mariners were not expecting Petterson to throw and alerted officials.