The Soldotna baseball team took advantage of a few Homer mistakes to pick up an 8-5 Northern Lights Conference victory Wednesday in Soldotna.
The Stars moved to 1-1 overall and in the league, while Homer dropped to 0-1 overall and in the league.
Both teams received solid efforts on the mound. Five Soldotna pitchers combined to give up just three hits, while two Homer pitchers gave up six hits.
The difference came on defense. After a disastrous defensive effort led to a loss to Kenai on Monday, the Stars came back and played an errorless game Wednesday.
"It was a huge change," Soldotna coach Roger Phillips said. "We stayed a lot more focused."
Homer committed five errors and gave up three unearned runs. Those runs were the difference in the game.
"If you take those few things away, we win the game," Homer coach Lary Kuhns said of his team's mistakes. "But they don't let you do that."
With five starting sophomores and the field late in thawing out in Homer, Kuhns said a bit of a rocky debut was not a surprise.
In the bottom of the first inning, Homer committed two errors in allowing an unearned and earned run. Even the earned run could have been prevented with better decision-making.
In the top of the third inning, Homer showed how much potential it has as a young team. With two runners on, Tommy Bowe blasted an offering from Max Conradi over the left-field fence to give his team a 3-0 lead.
"He's one of the best hitters in Southcentral and he's only a sophomore," Kuhns said. "He led us in home runs last year as a freshman."
The Stars tied the game up in the bottom of the third when Shayne Miller scored on a sac fly from Gavin Larson. But in the top of the fourth, Miller walked three and hit one in giving up two earned runs in two-thirds of an inning of relief work.
Winner Mitchell Daugherty and reliever Tyler Marcuson shut out the Mariners over the final three innings to allow Soldotna to make the comeback.
"Our pitching was also a lot better," Phillips said. "We weren't going deep into counts and always having to throw a strike when we got to a full count."
In the bottom of the fifth, the Stars scored four runs off of starter and loser Willie Deaver to take control of the game.
Jarrett Urban struck out to begin the rally, but the third strike was dropped and catcher Dylan Morrison threw wildly to first, allowing Urban to take second. After Miller was hit by a pitch, Larson singled to score two and give his team a 6-5 lead.
Deaver then struck out the next two batters — which would have ended the inning if not for the error. The Stars made the Mariners pay when Jake Darrow doubled to score Larson. Darrow would come around to score on an error.
Zack Haning pitched a hitless and scoreless inning of relief for the Mariners.
"Willie did a good job," Kuhns said. "He kept us in the game."
Phillips said his team did a good job of putting pressure on the Homer defense with aggressive baserunning, but he was disappointed his team did miss a few signs. He also said only three or four players on the team are hitting right now, so the Stars must start getting more hits up and down the lineup.
Max Hegge was 2 for 4 with a run and an RBI for SoHi, while Urban and Miller had two runs. Larson finished with two RBIs and a run, while Darrow was 2 for 3 with two runs and an RBI.
Nahoa Jette had two runs for Homer.