The Kenai Central boys baseball team may be out of the running for the ASAA state championship, but they still are playing after a 4-2 win Friday at Mulcahy Park in Anchorage.
Up against the Monroe Catholic Rams of Fairbanks, Kenai needed the win to continue play in the tournament, as the Kards were in the consolation bracket, having lost to Service 6-3 on Thursday.
Kenai went up 2-0 in the second inning off a double from Dallas Pierren, a line drive that allowed Miles Jones to score, and Pierren was able to score a run off a fielding error.
Monroe got a run from Scooter Bynum, off a single from Ryan Burke, in the top of the fourth inning to close the gap, but AJ Hull answered back for Kenai with a massive home run to put the Kards back up a run.
“I think that’s the key, when you give up a run to another team, you want to bounce back and keep that lead extended,” Kenai coach John Kennedy said. “When they got close, we were able to get that run, and it came up big, and AJ had that homer, which allowed Robert (Cockrell) to keep focused, and when they had an injury, it allowed us to take advantage and steal a base.”
When Monroe got another run from Bynum in the sixth inning, Kenai was once again able to extend the lead back out, as Luke Short scored a run off a single from Hull. Hull ended up going 2 for 4 in the game, with three RBIs.
Kennedy said the pitching speed of Monroe’s Tyler Wells was not as fast as Service’s Zach Ferntheil, and that kept Kenai a little more focused.
“We were anxious early, but we just hit some balls right at them and some line drives,” Kennedy said. “I can’t say enough about Robert’s pitching.”
Cockrell recorded seven hits and four strikeouts against Monroe, as he pitched the entire game.
Kenai now faces up against another Fairbanks team, the Lathrop Malamutes, in the fourth-place game at 10 a.m. Saturday at Mulcahy Park.
“Tomorrow we’ll sit down and figure out what we’re going to do, and have some fun,” Kennedy said. “That’s the one thing about these kids, they always have fun.
“We were at breakfast this morning and they all break out with these mustaches they bought somewhere. It was pretty funny, but that’s key, that the group has fun.”