Mariners fall short at Regions tourney

The Mariner baseball team had their hopes set on competing in the state tournament in Sitka that starts today but fell short after losing the two games in the Regions tournament last week in Soldotna that would have advanced them. 

Homer tried to gain back the upper hand against the Houston Hawks last Thursday, but luck didn’t swing their way, and they lost a close match 6-5. 

“I felt we were a better team than we showed at Regions,” said Coach Mark Putney. “Our game against Houston could have easily turned out as a win, and this would have changed our trajectory for the tournament.”

Kyle Johnson pitched for seven innings and had six strikeouts. In the bottom of the seventh inning, down by two runs, Greg Smith hit a home run to left field. Immediately after Tommy Bowe hit a home run over the center field fence tying the game with a rare pair of back-to-back home runs.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t finish off the comeback with another run for the win,” said Putney. “We had multiple chances to score the winning run in both the seventh and eighth innings but we couldn’t scratch across another one.” 

On Saturday the Soldotna Stars, who Homer beat twice in the season, took the win defeating Homer 9-5. Wylie Donich pitched for four innings, keeping the Mariners in the game for a majority of his innings while Sheldon Hutt pitched three innings, pitching to contact and hoping to keep the Stars off balance. 

On the defensive side JJ Sonnen had numerous putouts at shortstop.

“The guys never gave up in our games, regardless of the score or conditions,” Putney said. “They worked hard and made adjustments each game.”

Putney said the team had progressed throughout the season, getting better with each game.

“Every player was playing a new position or starting on varsity for the first time except for one,” he said. “I was impressed with their effort and learning.”