Homer's Adam Trieweiler prepares to deliver a pitch to Soldotna on Friday at the Soldotna Little League fields.
Photo by Jeff Helminiak
At noon on Friday, Homer senior pitcher Adam Trieweiler was practicing taking ground balls with fellow senior Johnny Watry when he hit a weird bump on the field and fell awkwardly on his right, and pitching, hand.
“My main thing was I thought it was broken,” Trieweiler said of his right thumb. “It was totally not where it was supposed to be.”
Trieweiler went to the doctor and discovered the digit was merely dislocated. The doctor popped the joint back into place in time for Trieweiler to make the trip to Soldotna for the Stars’ first baseball game in school history. Trieweiler pitched all five innings in the run-rule shortened, 12-0 Homer victory at the Soldotna Little League fields. He struck out nine, allowing just a bunt single to the first batter he faced Soldotna’s Justice Elson. The Stars did not hit a ball out of the infield in the game.
“Some of the fielders were joking with me and saying they were getting bored,” said Trieweiler, now 2-0 for the 5-0 Mariners. “They said, ‘You’ve got to let me have a ball.’”
Soldotna pitcher Rich Hatt fires toward home Friday.
Photo by Jeff Helminiak
Despite the 12-0 loss, Soldotna co-coaches Ray Waters and Robb Quelland drew plenty of positives from the loss to the established and successful Homer program. The Mariners started their program in 1999, becoming a varsity sport in 2001. Homer has taken the Northern Lights Conference four of the past six years and has been to state three times, taking second in 2005 after losing the championship to Sitka in 14 innings.
Soldotna pitcher Rich Hatt kept Homer’s bats in check for the first three innings. Hatt struck out six and allowed just one hit. That hit was a double by Josh Gilbert in the third inning. Gilbert came around to score when Trieweiler reached on an error, making Hatt the hard-luck loser.
Homer coach Lary Kuhns said his squad was not prepared for Hatt’s offspeed offerings. The Mariners were out in front of the crafty right-hander all day.
“This is no disrespect to the Soldotna pitcher, but we were taking batting practice with faster speeds than he was throwing it,” Kuhns said. “We were prepared for a fastball pitcher.”
Hatt left the mound after the third inning due to a tired arm and Homer took advantage. In the bottom of the fourth, the first 11 Homer batters reached first base safely. Ten of those 11 would score, as would Dean DeVaney, who reached on a fielder’s choice. The first three reached base against Michael Eskue and the next six reached against Keita Sugano. Elson came on to close the inning and gave up two runs. Elson would pitch a scoreless fifth inning.
“It was great, except for one inning,” Quelland said. “To hold a powerhouse like Homer to 1-0, except for one inning, I’m real impressed with the kids.”
Fellow coach Waters said that in a few weeks, when starting pitchers like Hatt and Elson get their arms in good enough shape to go deep into games, the Stars will be in much better shape. Waters also said that his squad needed to get used to facing a pitcher like Trieweiler.
“I was impressed. He was very dominating on the mound,” Waters said. “He had good speed and it was something we’re not used to.”
Soldotna’s best offensive ploy was the bunt, but Kuhns said he expected that and the Homer defense prepared accordingly. Kuhns said it won’t be long before it’s not so easy to prepare for the Stars.
“I think the two guys they’ve got coaching they know the game,” Kuhns said. “I think in the years to come, once the program gets built up, we’re going to have a good rivalry. Soldotna has some good athletes. You could see it out there today.”
Kuhns and Trieweiler said they thought the Stars were better than Wasilla.
“It was their first game so they were probably pretty nervous,” said Trieweiler, wearing a black brace on his hand after the game. “Once they get going, they’ll probably be right up there.”
Mariners 12, Stars 0
Homer 001 (11)0 12 7 0
Soldotna 000 00 0 1 3
Trieweiler and Martin; Hatt, Eskue (4), Sugano (4), Elson (4) and Elson, Hatt (4). W Trieweiler. L Hatt. 2B Homer: Gilbert. LOB Homer 9, Soldotna 3.
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