The Kenai Central baseball team picked up three victories on Friday and Saturday in a road trip to the Matanuska-Susitna valleys.
The Kardinals improved to 4-1 on the year.
Friday, Kenai beat Houston 12-8.
“We gave up eight runs, but only one was earned,” Kenai coach John Kennedy said. “Our pitchers are doing an OK job, but our defense is really hurting us.”
The Kards were down 7-2 at one point in the game.
Dallas Pierren was 3 for 5 with three runs and an RBI; Tay Harling was 1 for 4 with two RBI; Luke Short was 1 for 3 with three RBI; Jake Conver was 1 for 2 with a run and an RBI; and Justin Wisnewski was 2 for 3 with three RBI.
Miles Jones picked up the win in relief, going 5 1-3 innings to get the win.
Saturday, Kenai got up early to beat Kodiak 6-5.
Tay Harling got the start and gave up five runs in four innings, but all were unearned. Tyler Frates pitched two innings of shutout ball, then Jones pitched the last inning for another win.
Kenai came back from a 5-0 deficit for the win, scoring all its runs in the final three innings.
Hector Rivera was 2 for 4 with an RBI, while Dallas Pierren was 2 for 3 with two RBI and Luke Short was 1 for 4 with an RBI.
The Kards needed no comeback to beat Palmer 13-5.
Ethan Oliver pitched 4 1-3 innings for the win, while Jones pitched the last two innings.
Pierren was 1 for 3 with two runs; Short was 2 for 3 with three runs; Jones was 1 for 4 with two RBI; and Nos. 8 and 9 hitters Conver and Wisnewski were each 3 for 4 with an RBI.
Kenai travels to play Soldotna on Monday at 7 p.m.
Palmer 15, Soldotna 5
Cameron Christiansen is used to taking hits.
As the starting quarterback of the football team, Christiansen absorbed countless blows en route to leading his team to a conference championship. On Friday in a different role, as a relief pitcher on the baseball squad, the senior took a different type of hit — a line drive to the chest. But he also delivered a monster hit — a first inning grand slam.
Christiansen used his grand slam and four innings of relief on the mound to lead Palmer to a 15-5 win over Soldotna in the team’s season-opener at Houston High School Friday.
Christiansen took the mound in relief with one runner on and no outs in the top of the third inning. The first batter he faced smacked a line drive up the middle. The ball hit Christiansen in the chest, and dazed, the senior tried to find the ball, as the batter ran to first.
“Right away, I was thinking I’ve got to cover first. After that I thought, wow, that hurt,” Christiansen said after the win. “I needed to stop and breathe for a second.”
After a short break, Christiansen responded by throwing the final four innings of the game. Christiansen fanned four hitters and allowed on two hits, a single to right field and the infield single he took off the chest.
Christiansen also got out of a bases loaded jam in the third inning, and at one point retired seven straight Stars.
Palmer head coach Dave Combs was impressed with his senior’s toughness.
“He’s tough. He’s been hit enough in another sport,” Combs said, referring to Christiansen’s time on the football field.
Before he took the mound, Christiansen helped Palmer pile on the runs in the first inning. Christiansen capped Palmer’s 13-run first inning with a grand slam to left field.
It was not only the first grand slam, but the first home run of Christiansen’s baseball career.
“He’s definitely strong enough to do it. He’s been playing football for four years,” Combs said. “That was probably 360 (feet).”
With three runners on, Christiansen said he wasn’t exactly aiming for the fence.
“I wasn’t really thinking hit it far, two strikes, just got to get ball on ball,” Christiansen said. “He was serving it up, (I was) just not timing it up very good yet. There’s a lot of guys on base, and we were still ahead by only a few runs. I’ve got to get some runs in, gotta get the ball in play.”
Christiansen didn’t just put the ball in play, he put it well beyond the left field fence.
“I felt like I hit it really far, but I wasn’t sure until I saw that left fielder jogging,” Christiansen said. “At first I didn’t really know, but it felt really good though.”
Tyler VanAusdal had an RBI double and Luke Heun drove in two runs with a triple in the inning. Palmer’s first five hitters in the first inning all rounded the bases and scored.
“There’s been so much hitting in the cage, so much work. I think we kind of took that frustration out on the ball,” Combs said of the Moose, who finished with 14 hits in the game.
Soldotna took a 2-0 led in the top of the first, and added a pair of runs in the top of the second. Shayne Miller singled to right field to drive in both second-inning runs. Kenny Griffin walked and scored in the top of the third.
Colony 11, Homer 1
Jacob Butcher pitched a complete game and Ben Ross drove in three runs to lead Colony to an 11-1 win over Homer at Houston High School Friday.
Butcher scattered five hits and fanned six during the six-inning complete game win. Butcher also tripled, led his team with three hits and drove in a pair of runs for the Knights.
Ross finished for 2 for 4 at the plate with three RBI. Jonathon Boyer was 2 for 3 with two RBI and three runs scored.
Willy Deaver was 2 for 2 with an RBI for the Mariners. Tommy Bowe collected a hit and scored Homer’s lone run.
Soldotna 8, Houston 5
Kenny Griffin collected three hits to lead Soldotna to an 8-5 win over Houston on Thursday night.
Griffin also scored twice in the victory. Shayne Miller added a pair of hits and drove in two runs.
Jace Taylor led Houston with two hits and three RBI. Mitchell Ruta added two hits, two runs and two RBI.
Houston opened the game with a 3-1 first-inning lead, but Soldotna answered with four runs in the second.
Homer 4, Houston 2
Sparked by three early runs, Homer edged Houston 4-2 at Houston High Saturday.
Homer scored three times in the first inning to take the early led and held on for the victory. Mitchell Ruta pitched a seven-inning complete game in the loss. Ruta scattered 10 hits, and fanned four batters.
Lane Taylor finished 2 for 3 with a run for Houston. Devan Elson and Hunter Pease each added a hit and an RBI for the Hawks.
Lucas Schneider led Homer with three hits, a run and an RBI. Zach Haning and Tommy Bowe had two hits each. Bowe also scored twice and drove in a run.
Nahoa Jette pitched six innings and earned the win. Haning got the save.