• Homer readies for Regional play in Soldotna this weekend
By Sean Pearson
After celebrating Senior Night with an epic home win over the Soldotna Stars last week, Homer’s baseball team dropped a tough 6-1 road loss over conference foe Kenai on Memorial Day to end their regular season with a 4-6 record.
Mariner seniors Tommy Bowe and Nahoa Jette played their final home game last week, and they couldn’t have made it much more exciting.
The Mariner win came in the bottom of the seventh with the game tied at five, two outs and the bases loaded. Soldotna’s pitcher hit senior batter Jette to force in the winning run and give the M’s 6-5 edge.
Pitcher Kyle Johnson opened for Homer, allowing only four hits and two walks in a full five innings. Junior Sheldon Hutt relieved Johnson in the sixth inning, and logged the save.
The Mariner defense stayed on their toes all night, including a solid defensive effort by junior shortstop JJ Sonnen.
In the crucial seventh inning, after Soldotna tied the game and had runners at second and third with nobody out, pitcher Hutt picked off the runner at second base for the first out of the inning. Third baseman Michael Swoboda snared a hot grounder, held the runner at third, and threw the batter out for the second out. Brandon Beachy fielded a ground ball to second base and threw the batter out at first for out number three.
Offensively, the Mariners saw strong hitting from Smith and Sonnen. A clutch base hit from Sonnen in the second inning scored two runs.
“The pitch was on the outer part of the plate, and Coach Putney has been teaching us all year to hit those to the right center gap,” Sonnen said. “It was an outside fast ball and I got something I could hit. I was just doing what he taught me.”
Following the game, Sonnen said he felt like the M’s were just getting warmed up.
“We’re peaking at the right time,” Sonnen explained. “Everyone is getting hits, and we’re ready for Regions.”
Head Coach Mark Putney said he was pleased with the team’s overall performance on Wednesday.”
Things didn’t go quite as well for the M’s on Monday. With fire-fighting aircraft overhead and heavy smoke to the east from the 150,000 plus wildfire near Funny River, the game heated up just a bit too quickly.
Beachy started on the mound for Homer, helping out his cause with a second-inning single that eventually earned the Mariners’ only run of the game.
Kenai logged three runs in the bottom of the second, while Homer bats went cold; unable to capitalize on a third-inning Delehanty single, nor a Beachy double in the fourth inning.
A Sonnen base hit started a Mariner fifth-inning rally, but an attempt at a Homer hit-and-run turned into a double play. And, despite a formidable pitching effort by Hutt — logging six outs against seven batters — Homer was unable to close the deficit.
The Mariners enter Regional play tomorrow (Thursday) in Soldotna. Their opponent and game time have not yet been announced.
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