The Mariners finished regular season play with a win over the Kenai Kardinals and a loss and win against the Palmer Moose.
Mariners win big over the Kardinals:
The Homer Mariners travelled to Kenai May 21, routing the Kardinals 17-5. Brandon Beachy pitched a strong game for Homer, with Greg Smith catching. Beachy gave up six hits and minimized free passes, limiting the scoring by Kenai. JJ Sonnen came on to pitch a 1-2-3 6th inning in relief.
Offensively, Homer banged out nine hits and took advantage of a dozen walks to score early and often. Wylie Donich hit a double while Michael Swoboda picked up two RBI on a base hit in the third inning. Garrett Butcher, in his first varsity at bat, hit a single.
Other Mariners with RBI included Owen Delehanty, Beachy (2), Kyle Johnson (2) and Sonnen. “We were swinging the bat(s), putting the ball in play,” Beachy said. “It was a good team effort and fun to get a win on the road.”
Mariners split with the Moose:
On May 22, the Mariners returned home to face a tough Palmer team. Homer lost 9-6. Kyle Johnson pitched a complete game for Homer. The error bug bit the Mariners in this game, with eight errors contributing to six unearned runs for the Moose. The Mariners’ usual aggressive base running didn’t work as well against the quality defense of Palmer, with several Mariner runners getting thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double or getting picked off the bases.
“We have been taking advantage of weaker teams on the base paths but Palmer is a solid team and we can’t get away with it,” said Wylie Donich.
Michael Swoboda, Evan Boyer, and Patrick Rainwater picked up base hits for Homer. Donich played a very solid third base, playing an errorless ballgame and contributing to 7 of the 21 outs recorded by the Mariners. One foul grab by Donich involved slamming into the chain link fence in foul territory as he reached over the fence to make the catch, chipping his tooth in the effort — taking it for the team.
“I scored twice and had plenty of play but it was a rough night for the team,” Donich said. “We should have remained calm but our emotions were all over the place. Too many errors and mistakes.”
On May 23, Homer played a fine game against Palmer, picking up a 9-3 win to close out the regular season. Greg Smith started on the mound, with Michael Swoboda catching.
“It was my first time pitching all season. I got a lot of encouragement from coach and the team,” said Smith, who pitched 4 1/3 quality innings before giving way to Wylie Donich who also pitched well to finish the game.
Evan Boyer was two for three at the plate and picked up a clutch, bases loaded line drive single to drive in two runs in the 5th inning to open up a 6-3 lead. Smith also contributed a pair of hits and Kyle Johnson laid down beautiful safety squeeze bunts in both the 4th and 5th innings, driving in a run each time.
This was a crisp, well-played game by both the Moose and the Mariners, who played the game in just 90 minutes. Other Mariners with hits included Brandon Beachy (RBI), Michael Swoboda (RBI) and Sheldon Hutt (RBI).
Next up for the Mariners is the regional tournament in Houston, with a chance to earn a trip to the state tournament.
In JV action the Mariner beat Kenai 21-6. “We had lots of great bats in the first inning, getting 12 runs,” said freshman third baseman Kyle Wells, who helped with hits in each of the first two games of the weekend.
The first game v. Palmer was tied after five innings of regulation play. They played one more inning and with Garrett Butcher on third, Michael Swoboda took a large lead off first to draw the throw. An errant throw to first allowed Butcher to score the winning run.
The last JV game of the season was against Palmer on Saturday, with the Mariners losing 11-9. Joe Ravin started in pitching and Garrett Butcher pitched in relief. Outfielders James Webber and Elias Graham had a couple of nice catches.
Freshman catcher Woape Huffman had three hits and a walk. “I got the dingers off some slow pitches,” Huffman said. “I hit them to the opposite field.”
The JV season is over. “We had a vast variety of skills contributed by the JV team,” said Huffman. “Everyone improved over the season. But next year we are going to have to step it up even more because we are losing nine seniors.”
Coach Sonnen said the JV has played well all year. “We have lots of young guys coming up, they look good and I’m happy with them.”