• Mariners to start post-season play in Valley this weekend
By Sean Pearson
The Mariner baseball team held their 2013 home opener against the Soldotna Stars last Wednesday. They played their last home game against Kenai the very next day.
Some might call it a short season.
Homer gave up three runs to SoHi in the first inning of the conference game, but those would be the only runs pitcher Zach Haning and the Mariner defense were willing to give up.
The M’s answered with four runs to take the lead in the bottom of the first, thanks to hits from Zac Bynum, Lucas Schneider, JJ Sonnen, Derek Johnson and Tommy Bowe. Johnson picked up two hits, while Bowe nailed a double that skirted under the outfield fence.
Defensively, outfielder Brian Rowe gunned down a runner trying to score on a base hit to center field. Senior catcher Willy Deaver made the tag at home plate. Sonnen contributed a diving catch at second to shut down the Stars’ scoring threat.
Homer Head Coach Lary Kuhns said the win was, “a good team effort, and credited “great pitching from Zack Haning” as a huge factor in the team’s success. The 10-3 win put the Mariners at 3-2 in the Northern Lights Conference.
In junior varsity action, Homer fell 11 to 7 to the Soldotna JV. Johnson and Brandon Beachy both pitched solid games for the younger M’s, while Greg Smith turned in a consistent performance behind the plate. A third-inning Homer rally featured four straight hits by Sheldon Hutt, Derek Johnson, Dick Perez and Kyle Johnson. Patrick Cashman also contributed a hit in the Mariners losing effort.
The Mariner varsity team would host the Kenai Kardinals in their last home game of the season amid a steady, cold drizzle. And, despite a formidable Homer effort and a few ties, Kenai came up with the 12-10 win.
After the Kards took an early lead, Homer came back to tie the game twice, but could never pull ahead. Bowe, Schneider and Nahoa Jette pitched. Jette and Brian Rowe each picked up a triple for the game, and a 4.3 magnitude earthquake rattled the field in the sixth inning.
The Mariner JV team won by four runs in an earlier game.
With their regular season already complete, Homer will travel to the Valley to start Regional play on Thursday.
The Alaska baseball season has been challenged by wet and snowy field conditions this season, limiting Homer’s varsity to only six of their nine scheduled games. All six games were compressed into a nine-day time frame.
And, if they didn’t already have enough of a fight on their hands with the uncooperative weather, the Ms also found some uncooperative opponents in the Wasilla Warriors.
Wasilla elected to forfeit instead of traveling to Homer to play the game, and declined to stay in Kenai to play Homer on another opportunity because they would arrive back in Wasilla too late. The Mariners travel regardless of their sleep schedules, recently arriving back in Homer at 2:15 a.m. after a weekend of play up in the Valley.
Junior first baseman Tommy Bowe said he thinks things are starting to come together for the Mariners as they head into post-season play.
“We are playing really good team baseball, turning lots of double plays and throwing runners out from the outfield,” he said. “I think we are hitting the ball well, but need to swing at fewer balls. I think if we pay attention and actually see the ball better, we won’t see as many strike-outs.”
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