The bats of the host Soldotna baseball team were a little off on Tuesday in a Southcentral Conference game against Homer. That didn't matter, because Stars starting pitcher Josiah Covey was on.
Covey, who joined the team this year after moving to Alaska from Oregon, pitched Soldotna's first complete game of the season to lead the team to a 9-6 victory over the Mariners. The Stars also won the nonconference nightcap 10-9.
"I had my stuff working pretty well today," said Covey, who improved to 2-2 on the year.
Of the six runs Covey yielded, three were earned. He also gave up eight hits while striking out five and walking three.
Homer pitchers Kevin Rowe and Garrett McCarthy also pitched well, combining to give up just 10 hits against a Soldotna offense that had been clicking more lately, including in a trip to the Matanuska-Susitna valleys last weekend.
"We didn't hit well at all, not after what we did in Palmer and Wasilla," Soldotna coach Robb Quelland said as his team improved to 6-7 overall and 3-2 in the league.
Homer coach Adam Trieweiler agreed that Homer's pitchers had done their jobs. Rowe went four innings and gave up seven runs -- five earned -- on seven hits, while McCarthy pitched the final two innings and yielded two runs on three hits.
"We had too many errors," Trieweiler said after his team fell to 0-5 and 6-13. "(Rowe) did his job and threw strikes. It's up to the fielders and the batters. We hit OK but our fielding was lacking."
The Mariners jumped on top in the top of the first when Asa Stage and Rowe scored a pair of unearned runs. The Stars came back to take a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the first. Three Homer errors in the inning led to one of the runs being unearned.
Covey, the team's leading hitter at .562 coming into the game, had an RBI in the first en route to a 3-for-4 day with two runs scored.
"I usually don't hit as well when I'm pitching," Covey said. "Today, I didn't do as well as I normally do."
Another telling trend in the first was the Stars' theft of four bases, including two by Braden Price. The team would steal 11 bases in the game.
Trieweiler said the stolen bases were the one area where his pitchers did not do a good job. He said he told the pitchers to do a better job of holding the runners, but they still didn't throw to first much.
"We got back to being aggressive," Quelland said. "We have good speed on the base paths and a good knowledge of baserunning."
Both Covey and Quelland credited Soldotna catcher Tyler Marcuson from keeping the Mariners from running wild. Marcuson ended the game by catching Tayler Downes stealing.
"He has a great arm," Covey said of Marcuson.
The Stars stretched the lead to 5-2 in the second when a Marcuson single scored Jake Darrow and Covey. After Homer cut the gap to 5-3 in the third on a single by Norm Anderson that scored McCarthy, Mitchel Daugherty and Steven Steger scored in the bottom of the third for a 7-2 game.
The Mariners kept trying to come back in the fourth, when McCarthy knocked in Rob Reed. But RBIs by Price and Darrow, scoring Stan Westerman and Price, moved the score to 9-3 after five.
Homer mounted a rally in the seventh, as Anderson singled to score McCarthy and Downes knocked in Anderson, but Covey kept things under control to pick up the win.
"It was nice to see him finish it out," Quelland said. "He kept right on going through our errors."
Before the second game against the Mariners, seniors Westerman and Steger were honored because it would be their final home game in a Soldotna uniform.
"It's going to be tough to see both of them go," Quelland said.
The two seniors then combined to pitch for the victory. Westerman pitched the first four innings and gave up seven runs, five of which were earned.
Homer led 7-3 when Steger, who had never pitched before, took the mound in the fifth. He gave up just two unearned runs in three innings to allow Soldotna to mount a comeback.
The Stars trailed 9-8 heading into the bottom of the seventh. Steger started the inning with a single, then Gavin Larson moved him to third with a double. Shayne Miller, like Larson a freshman, then doubled to score both runs and win the game.
Steger finished 3-for-4 with two doubles, while Larson was 1-for-2 with four RBIs and Miller was 2-for-4.
Soldotna will finish its season with a small-schools tournament in Houston on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
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