• Homer ends season with 2-2 performance at Regions
By Sean Pearson
Homer’s varsity baseball team proved determined, but played inconsistently at last weekend’s Region III Tournament in the Valley, ending their season after losing to the Kenai Kardinals in semi-final play.
The Mariners opened the tourney strong on Thursday with a convincing 7-2 win over the Wasilla Warriors. Zach Haning was the winning pitcher, and got a fair amount of offensive help from busy bats and heads-up base running.
The M’s scored a run in the first inning, but Wasilla answered with two of their own. Homer then stepped up to retake the lead in the third, and added four more in the fifth. They would allow Wasilla no more runs in the game.
“I think our best win was against Wasilla,” said Mariner JJ Sonnen. “We played really well overall, with strong pitching and some good hits. It was a nice victory for us, because they are such a big school.”
Homer faced Kodiak in their second game of tourney play, and gave up a quick 0-2 lead in the first inning. The Mariners scored two runs in the third, thanks to doubles by Sonnen and Brian Rowe, and a Zac Bynum sacrifice fly. Unfortunately, it was the only scoring the M’s could muster, and they fell 2-9 to the Bears.
“Kodiak was a tough game,” Sonnen said. “They hit us pretty well, but they also had a tough pitcher on the mound who threw in the low 80s (mph). They shut us down and we just weren’t generating any runs ourselves.”
Things started looking up again in Friday’s third game of the tournament. Homer bats came alive in their 12-9 squeaker against the Palmer Moose. After taking the lead in the first inning, the M’s fell behind in the third. The boys in blue stormed back to score six runs in the fourth inning, and held on for the win.
Nahoa Jette was the winning pitcher, giving up five runs on six hits with one walk and one strikeout. Zach Haning picked up the save. He gave up three runs on three hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
The Mariners’ season came down to a Friday game against the Kenai Kards, and things didn’t look pretty. The game was called in the bottom of the six inning on the mercy rule, with Kenai leading 19-9.
Sonnen said he thought things went fairly well at Regions, despite the heart-breaking end for Homer.
“I liked how we didn’t give up against Palmer,” he said. “We had a couple of errors, but we were able to still pull off a win. I think that says a lot about our team.”
Junior slugger Tommy Bowe agreed.
“I think Regions went well. We played hard and won two games,” he said. “But we really just broke down in the one inning against Kenai and gave them the game.”
Homer had a six-run lead against the Kardinals in the fourth inning, but gave up a whopping 14 runs and just ran out of gas in the end. this final game, giving up too many walks and making several errors on defense.
“We should have definitely beat Kenai, but we just couldn’t stop the bleeding in that fourth inning,” Sonnen said. “We gave up too many walks and made several defensive errors.”
In Northern Lights Conference awards, Bowe was named to the first team, while Willy Deaver, Haning and Rowe were named to the second team. Derek Johnson was selected for the good Sport team.
According to Sonnen, the early departure at Regions didn’t diminish the individual accomplishments made by several Homer players.
“Willy really got his hitting down at Regions, and got moved up to the three hole because he was pounding the ball every time he was at bat,” Sonnen said. “He was definitely the team leader this season, both on and off the field. He really set an example for the younger guys.”
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