The Soldotna baseball team could not come back from an early two-run deficit in the top of the third inning Thursday at Coral Seymour Memorial Park as Wasilla won 4-1 and advanced to the Southcentral Conference championship game Friday.
Wasilla senior right fielder Chris Capo’s two-run, two-out single put the Warriors on top 2-0 in the top of the third inning. From there, Wasilla cruised behind sophomore ace Bryce Borngraeber’s four-hit, one-run complete game.
“He’s been doing it all year, I had total confidence in him and he came through like he normally does,” Wasilla head coach Jason Terryberry said. “He pitched great.”
Soldotna’s run came in the bottom of the fourth when Jarrett Urban crossed home on ground-out by junior Gavin Larson. That would be the only run for Soldotna.
Borngraeber recorded 10 strikeouts while Soldotna’s Max Hegge gave up three earned runs and one unearned run on four hits in his five innings of work. Hegge gave up three walks.
Max Conradi pitched two scoreless innings of relief for SoHi.
Stars coach Roger Phillips said the lack of offense hurt SoHi’s chances.
“We had far too many strikeouts and far too many strikeouts looking,” he said.
With the loss, the Stars will play the winner of Kodiak and Palmer on Friday at 3 p.m. at the Kenai Little League fields.
Phillips said moving forward his players will have to stop worrying about parts of the game that are out of their control. Soldotna senior third baseman Tyler Marcuson got thrown out in the bottom of the first inning for arguing with the home-plate umpire after a called strike three.
“One thing you have to do is stop worrying about the calls the blue makes and worry about what you can control,” he said. “You just have to take care of business, do your job, and play situational baseball.”
In the top of the fifth inning, Wasilla put up two runs. Freshman Blake Carricaburu scored on an error and sophomore Kyle Simmons scored on a sacrifice fly to put the score 4-1 in the Warriors’ favor.
Borngraeber said he felt good on the mound the whole game.
“I felt pretty good. My arm usually hurts on six to eight days rest but today my arm felt good,” he said. “Every now and then my two-seam wasn’t in the spot. It was high but I got it down.”
The Warriors’ victory Thursday gives them a berth in the championship game Friday at 7 p.m. at Oiler Park. The key to victory, Terryberry said is to keep doing what they did Thursday against SoHi.
Warriors 4, Stars 1
Hegge, Conradi (6) and Miller; Borngraeber and Grissom. W — Borngraeber. L — Hegge. LOB — Wasilla 5, Soldotna 4.
Soldotna 4, Houston 3
The Stars advanced to the semifinals by holding off the Hawks early Thursday at the Kenai Little League fields.
Houston will play Homer in the second-place bracket Friday at 10 a.m. at the Kenai Little League fields.
A clutch suicide squeeze bunt by SoHi freshman Justice Miller proved to be a big play in the game. The game was tied at 1 in the bottom of the fourth inning when Miller was called to squeeze Tyler Marcuson home.
“He got the momentum going for us,” SoHi assistant Mike Griffin said. “For a freshman, you’ve got to touch that ball, and that kid punched that out for us.”
The Stars scored two runs later in the inning and then held on as Houston scored one run in the fifth and one run in the sixth.
Jarrett Urban pitched the first 4 2-3 innings to record the win, giving up two earned runs and five hits while walking seven and striking out five.
Max Conradi pitched 1 1-3 innings of relief, giving up an earned run and two hits while walking two and striking out two.
Tyler Marcuson nailed down the save, throwing only one ball in 11 pitches in the seventh. He struck out two.
Both teams struggled on offense in the game, each picking up seven hits. Houston left 13 runners on base.
“We had really limited offense,” SoHi coach Roger Phillips said. “The Houston pitcher did a good job of stymieing us.”
For SoHi, Jake Darrow was 2 for 3 with an RBI and a run, Shayne Miller was 2 for 3 with a run, and Max Hegge was 2 for 4.
Homer 1, 5 innings
Some injuries on the mound caught up with the Mariners on Thursday at Seymour Park.
With top starter Zack Haning struggling with a hand injury, Homer coach Lary Kuhns went to Willie Deaver in the opener.
Deaver has been battling a twisted ankle, though, and gave up five runs in 2-3 innings of work.
Kuhns tried to go to Haning, but it only took three pitches for it to be clear Haning could not pitch with the injury.
Lucas Schneider then pitched 4 1-3 innings before the Warriors won due to the mercy rule and avenged a 7-4 regular-season defeat to Homer.
“We’re dangling by a thread as far as pitching goes right now,” Kuhns said.
Kuhns said freshman second baseman JJ Sonnen had a solid game, with a hit and a walk. Tommy Bowe went 2 for 3.
Josh Grissom worked all five innings for Wasilla and did not allow an earned run.
Homer faces Houston in the second-place bracket at 10 a.m. at the Kenai Little League fields in a loser-out game.