PALMER -- Soldotna head coach Rob Quelland wants to get senior pitcher DJ Stilchen more work on the mound. But Quelland probably didn't anticipate needing to use Stilchen during back-to-back games of a two-day road trip to the Mat-Su Valley.
After making the start and pitching five innings during a 9-8 loss to Wasilla on Friday, Stilchen pitched 5 1/3 innings of relief of a 17-4 win over Palmer at Hermon Brothers Field on Saturday.
"He's an animal," Quelland said of Stilchen. "This is a kid who has every possible gift from above --size, strength, resilience -- to play. He just needs time on the mound."
Resilience was the key for Stilchen. The senior entered in the bottom of the second, after Soldotna starter Tyler Marcuson left with an apparent arm injury, and fanned seven Moose hitters over more than five innings of work. He allowed three hits and three runs en route to earning the win in relief.
"Less than 24 hours the kid comes back and throws a phenomenal game," Quelland said.
With Stilchen leading the Stars on the mound, leadoff hitter Stan Westerman led Soldotna at the plate, finishing 5-for-5 with five runs scored.
Westerman sparked a Stars offense that finished with 20 hits in the game. Junior Josiah Covey was 4-for-5 with two runs and two RBI. Junior Mitchell Thompson was 3-for-4 with a pair of runs.
Soldotna used a pair of big innings to hand the Moose the lopsided loss. The Stars broke a 4-4 tie with five runs in the top of the sixth. Westerman stretched a double into a triple to lead off the inning, and scored when Daugherty hit into a fielder's choice. Daugherty and Tyler Forbes both scored on passed balls to push Soldotna's lead to 7-4. Stilchen walked and scored to give the Stars the 9-4 lead late in the inning.
The Stars collected nine runs on six hits, while batting around in the seventh. Westerman led off the inning, once again, and walked and scored. Covey drove in two runs on a single, and Soldotna scored twice more on passed balls.
As Soldotna piled on the runs, Palmer head coach Dave Combs watched as his team couldn't get out of another big inning.
"That's been the story of our season," Combs said. "We're in the game for quite a bit. We just don't know how to play a whole game. We've played two whole games and those are our two varsity wins."
AJ Corbin, Isaac Courson and Greg Prickett drove in runs to lead the Moose offense. After Soldotna took an early 1-0 lead, Prickett drove a ball into the right center field gap. Kevin Montgomery scored on the play to tie the score at 1.
In the third, Corbin singled and scored on a passed ball. Sean Coleman scored on Courson's infield single to tie the score at 3-3.
Palmer tied the score once again in the fourth, at 4-4, when Tommy Brown scored on a Corbin sacrifice fly.
Contact Frontiersman sports editor Jeremiah Bartz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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