PALMER — Friday afternoon, AJ Hull was at Palmer High School competing in the preliminary round of the Region III track and field championships. Hull won the long jump and posted one of the top times in the boys 100-meter dash.
Later that day, the senior traded his track spikes for a baseball glove and cleats. But even though Hull was on the diamond, in the third inning it was like the Kenai Central senior had not left the track.
Hull sprinted to the plate and scored from second base on a Palmer error after a passed ball during a 5-3 win over the Moose at the Palmer Senior Field.
Hull scored the second run after a ball bounced by the plate and to the backstop. Ethan Oliver also scored on the play. Coaches from both dugouts felt that was a key part of Kenai’s victory.
“That was the winning margin,” Kenai assistant Gary Oliver said. “Once again, we capitalized on the other team’s mistakes.”
Palmer head coach Dave Combs agreed the play was key.
“Little plays like that in a tight ballgame are the difference,” Combs said.
Ethan Oliver scored and drove in a pair of runs, and Hull scored twice during the Kenai victory. The Kards built a 5-1 lead in the game, but the Moose did try to rally.
Palmer infielder Kevin Christopher, who was 5 for 5 during a loss to Soldotna on Thursday, drove in a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth to close the gap.
With one out, Elias Stratton and David Media recorded back-to-back singles, and Gus Topp drew a walk to load the bases. With the bases loaded, Christopher belted a ball into center field.
Palmer threatened in the bottom of the seventh. Gus singled to put a runner on. But with the tying run at the plate, Palmer hit into a game-ending double play.
“It was nice to turn that double play and get out of that jam,” Gary Oliver said.
After Kenai took the 2-0 lead, Stratton singled and scored on an error for the Moose in the bottom of the third to cut the Kards’ lead in half. Kenai did add to its advantage in the fifth.
Justin Wisnewski led off the inning with a single and Hector Rivera followed with a walk. Ethan Oliver cleared the bases with a two-run single to center field. Hull reached on an error and scored later in the inning to give Kenai the 5-1 advantage.
Robert Cockrell started the game for the Kards on the mound and earned the win. Cockrell was also 3 for 4 at the plate. Myles Jones pitched the final three innings.
Palmer junior Luke Heun was strong on the mound once again for the Moose.
“My pitching staff has done great,” Combs said.
Media was 2 for 3 with a run to lead Palmer. Stratton collected a pair of singles and two runs.
Kenai 13, Wasilla 4
The Kardinals moved to 6-0 overall with a nonconference victory against the Warriors on Saturday.
Ethan Oliver got the win on the mound, going 4 1-3 innings and giving up one hit and four runs. He struck out five and walked six.
Hull pitched the final 2 2-3 innings, allowing no runs, three hits and two walks while striking out three.
On offense, Hull was 2 for 2 with three runs, an RBI and a double; Oliver was 2 for 4 with an RBI and three runs; and Hector Rivera was 1 for 3 with a run and two RBIs.
The Kards were in control the whole way. Palmer scored three runs in the fifth, but Kenai still led 8-4.
The Kards put five more runs on the board in the seventh inning, with Johnny Wilson getting two RBIs and Alex Nason pinch-hitting and getting a hit and a run.
Only two Kenai players did not have hits in the game.