A ferry ride to Kodiak can be an adventure in itself. As it turned out, however, the Homer High School Mariner baseball team’s ride from Homer to Kodiak last week wasn’t that bad.
It was after the team arrived in Kodiak that the weather kicked in.
“Growing up on Kodiak, it was the worst weather I’d ever played in,” said Mariner Head Coach Mark Putney, a former Kodiak resident.
On Friday, temperatures were in the 30s and winds were hitting the island at 30 miles per hour.
“Had it been last year, the game would have been canceled,” said Putney.
Last year, Kodiak didn’t have a turf field. This year it does. So, in spite of wind and rain, Friday’s game was on, but the Mariners weren’t. The Kodiak Bears won both the JV and the varsity games.
“We didn’t play very well. It was a beating for sure,” said Putney. “We didn’t field grounders. Didn’t catch pop-ups. Our guys were cold. Friday was a good game to forget about.”
In the fourth inning, with the score at 17-0 in Kodiak’s favor, the umpire called the game.
Saturday, the weather was somewhat better, the rain only an occasional drizzle, and the Mariners were ready for a fresh start.
“I think after a better night’s sleep, the guys were more prepared mentally and physically. We played better,” said Putney.
Going into the fifth inning, the score was Kodiak 10, Homer 1, “and I thought that was a turning point,” said Putney. With Sheldon Hutt pitching and Greg Smith catching, the action picked up.
“They work well together, threw out a base-runner, picked off another guy. (Hutt) threw strikes and was able to get some ground balls and easy fly balls and we ended up scoring 10-5,” said Putney, who praised the Mariners for not giving up.
“I was pleased we came back and responded after being down. It was a positive end to a pretty rough weekend.”
Putney also noted Michael Swoboda’s “stellar defense.” Swoboda took turns at second base, left field and short stop.
“He played about everywhere, every inning of JV and varsity,” said Putney. “He was a trooper in some pretty nasty weather, diving all over the place, making some strong plays.”
Putney also noted contributions by JV pitcher Patrick Rainwater, Kyle Johnson and the “solid defensive play” of third-baseman Paul Trowbridge.
The team ran into a bit more foul weather on the return ferry trip to Homer.
“We were on there with Seward’s track team and people were throwing up,” said Putney.
“It was probably one of the worst ferry rides I’ve been on.”
On Tuesday, at their first at-home game, the Mariners lost 4-3 to the Kenai Kardinals. J. J. Sonnen scored two runs and Swoboda one.
This week, the Mariners take on Colony on Friday, with the JV game at 4 p.m. and varsity at 7 p.m. On Saturday, the JV game begins at noon and the varsity game at 3 p.m.
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.