WASILLA — The Soldotna Stars used a bases-clearing triple to tie the score. But the Wasilla Warriors had an answer with a triple of their own.
Ben Werner tripled and James Arend hit a solo shot during four-run sixth that helped the Warriors hold on to a 12-9 win over the Stars on Saturday afternoon at Wasilla High School. The nonconference loss left Soldotna at 4-3 overall.
“Soldotna came back and we put the pedal down,” Wasilla head coach Ken Ottinger said after the win.
With two on and no outs with the score knotted at 8, Werner knocked a ball into deep center field to score a pair of runs for the Warriors. It was the second triple of the day for Werner, who also scored three times in the win.
“It’s good to see,” Ottinger said. “What a kid to have in the three-spot. The kid has some power. He’s a kid that controls the barrel on a hit-and-run. And the kid can drag bunt. Not many three hitters in the state can do (all of that).”
Jacob Gilbert and Balas Buckmaster each drew a walk with no outs, and both were moved into scoring position with a Kyle Gilbert sacrifice bunt.
“The bunting game for us has been 100 times better than last year,” Ottinger said.
Werner followed with the triple to give Wasilla the lead and later scored on a Soldotna wild pitch. Arend blasted a ball over the left-field fence to add an insurance run late in the inning.
Wasilla needed the go-ahead runs after SoHi tied the game in the fifth. Trailing by three, Soldotna loaded the bases and used a two-out rally to tie the score. Austin Asp and David Michael each drew walks, but a key play for the Stars came midway through the inning. With two outs, Logan Smith hit a high pop fly to the right side of the infield. The wind hit the ball and pushed it back toward the third-base line and the Warriors were unable to make the grab.
With the bases loaded and two outs, Caleb Spence sent a ball into deep left-center field. Asp, Smith and Michael all scored, and Spence made his way to third for the triple.
Soldotna — which scored 56 runs during its three-day weekend stay in the Valley — opened the game with three runs in the top of the first. The top three hitters in the lineup — Cody Quelland, Jeremy Kupferschmid and Matthew Daugherty — all scored. Quelland and Kupferschmid both walked and scored. Daugherty singled to drive in a run and scored later in the inning.
Wasilla was able to answer with six in the bottom of the first. Buckmaster led off with a walk and scored. Graham, Werner, Cyruss Lovell, Arend and Gavin Hannasch also scored as Wasilla battled around in the bottom of the first. Werner had a run-scoring single. Lovell and Caden Dudley each drove in two runs with singles in the first.
Werner and Arend led the Warriors with three hits each. Dudley was 2 for 2.
Spence was 2 for 2 with the three-run triple to lead Soldotna. Hunter Thompson drove in two runs, and Joel Sisson scored twice.
Soldotna 15, Houston 5
The visiting Stars came back from a 15-5 deficit after three innings to defeat Houston on Friday in Southcentral Conference play.
The Stars moved to 3-0 in the league and 4-2 overall.
“It was an ugly win but it’s a win,” Soldotna coach Robb Quelland said. “The boys showed their tenacity. They could have easily rolled over. It was an easy game to roll over with the score and the travel.”
Caleb Spence got the start and gave up 10 runs — four earned — on seven hits in two innings.
“No excuses,” Quelland said. “He just wasn’t on today.”
After Tanner Ussing gave up five runs in two-thirds of an inning, David Michael went 2 2-3 innings and Austin Asp went 1 2-3 innings without allowing a run to allow the Stars to come back. Michael got the win, while Asp got the save.
“Both of them were not slated to pitch in this game,” Quelland said. “We called upon them and they both stepped up.”
The Stars banged out 20 hits in making the comeback. Ussing was 5 for 5 with four RBIs and two runs, while Michael was 3 for 5 with two runs and two RBIs.
Also for SoHi, Jeremy Kupferschmid was 3 for 6 with three runs, Cody Quelland was 2 for 6 with two runs, Spence had three runs, Hunter Thompson was 2 for 4 with two runs and two RBIs and Terence Slats was 2 for 4 with three RBIs.
Homer 8, Kodiak 4
The host Mariners picked up their first victory of the season Friday.
Homer is now 1-2 in the Southcentral Conference and overall. The previous two losses came when Matthew Daugherty of Soldotna and Gavin Petterson of Kenai Central were on the hill.
“We’ve faced a couple of pretty tough pitchers in Daugherty from SoHi and Petterson from Kenai,” Homer coach Rich Sonnen said. “We battled them, but it felt good to finally get a win.”
Garrett Butcher pitched the first four innings for Homer, giving up four runs on six hits. Douglas Dean finished up with three scoreless innings, giving up just two hits.
Sonnen said it was a team effort on offense, with everybody picking up a hit. Woape Huffman finished 2 for 4, while Joe Ravin was 1 for 3 with a triple and Butcher was 1 for 3 with a double.
Kodiak 7, Homer 2
The visiting Bears got a great pitching effort from Mitchell Kane on Saturday to top the Mariners in Southcentral Conference action. Homer falls to 1-3 in the league and overall.
Kane pitched the whole game for the Bears, giving up just two hits and two runs. Homer went up 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth when Douglas Dean walked, Garrett Butcher tripled and Adam Brinster singled. But Kodiak came back with a run in the fifth, four runs in the sixth and two runs in the seventh. Seth Adkins started for Homer, lasting five innings and giving up one run on two hits while striking out five. Joe Ravin came on in relief, pitching two innings and giving up two hits and six runs — just one being earned.
Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman sports editor Jeremiah Bartz at firstname.lastname@example.org. Peninsula Clarion staff contributed to this report.