Mariners defeat Kardinals in opening game of season

Mariner pitcher Kyle Johnson threw a four-hit complete game in the Mariners’ opening varsity baseball game, leading Homer to a 10-2 victory over Kenai on Tuesday on their home turf.

Sound defense and a team effort on offense combined with the outstanding pitching to earn the victory.  

“It was a great way to start the season,” said senior third baseman Wylie Donich, who picked up the first hit of the evening as well as made a fine stabbing catch of a hot line drive late in the game.

That grab was a “total reflex catch,” said Donich.

Center fielder Owen Delehanty picked up a couple of runs batted in with a bases-loaded hit in a big second inning for the Mariners. They scored seven runs in the second and never looked back. The Mariners added a final run in the sixth inning when Greg Smith drilled a triple to deep left field followed by a Brandon Beachy double down the left field line.

Donich, Patrick Rainwater, Michael Swoboda and Smith all had hits in the second. The Mariners scored their first two runs of the game in the first inning off a walk to the leadoff hitter, JJ Sonnen, who stole second, stole third, and came home on a throwing error on the stolen base. The Mariners were aggressive on the base paths all night, with the running game helping plate several extra runs.

Defensively, the Mariners were solid all night.  The outfielders caught every catchable ball and the infielders were nearly flawless, helping out pitcher Johnson.  Johnson mixed a good curveball with his fastball, keeping the Kenai hitters off balance and letting his defense make the plays when the batters put the ball in play.  

“I knew if they put the ball in play, I could count on my team,” said Johnson.

In JV action, the Mariners defeated Kenai by the 10-run rule, 11-1.  Pitching for the JV game were Michael Swoboda and Garrett Butcher. 

Next up for the Mariners is a trip to the Valley, where the varsity plays double headers against Palmer and Soldotna while the JV plays in a tournament with multiple schools.