Kodiak committed four errors that led to five Colony third-inning runs as the Bears lost, 8-1, in a Southcentral Conference Tournament semifinal game Thursday evening in Soldotna.
“Colony came to play. My hats off to them,” Kodiak coach James Arnold said. “We competed with them for six of the seven innings. That third inning we just couldn’t put it together.”
Colony will look to defend its title from a year ago at 7 p.m. today against Wasilla in the championship game, while Kodiak has work to do to earn a berth to the state tournament.
The Bears will have to win three straight games — two on Saturday — to earn a return trip to the state tournament that begins June 5 in Sitka.
That journey begins at 3 p.m. today against either Soldotna or Homer.
Kodiak then would have to win Saturday morning to earn a spot in the winner-to-state game at 1 p.m. against the loser of today’s championship game.
Kodiak (12-10) entered the tournament as the South Division champion and looked every bit like a No. 1 seed in an opening-round 15-3 win over Palmer early Thursday.
Unfortunately for Kodiak, the offense didn’t carry over against Colony.
The Knights’ Dalton McHugill gave up a run in the first inning then shutout Kodiak the next six innings to earn the win.
The right-hander allowed seven hits and struck out seven on 108 pitches.
Colony broke the game open in the third, scoring five runs off of Kodiak starter Jakob Arnold, to take a 6-1 lead.
Colony’s first two hitters reached on an error — a dropped third strike — and a single. With first base open, Kodiak intentionally walked Ben Ross to get to Matt Palmer, who hit three home runs in an opening-round 12-7 win over Kenai.
Palmer wasted little time and laced a 1-0 pitch for a two-run single to put Colony ahead for good.
“First base was open and I just wanted to set up a double play — give up one run for two outs,” James Arnold said.
Logan Sanders followed with another two-run single and Layne Cottingham ended the scoring with an RBI single.
Kodiak committed four of its seven errors during the inning.
“It really loads up the pitcher. We can’t afford to do that — I don’t care who is on the mound,” James Arnold said.
Palmer ended the scoring by blasting a two-run home run — his fourth of the day — off of Jakob Arnold in the seventh. Palmer went 6 for 7 between the two games.
Jakob Arnold worked 6 2/3 innings, allowing eight runs — seven earned — on 10 hits. He struck out five, walked two, hit another and tossed 106 pitches.
Jakob Arnold is allowed to pitch 3 1/3 more innings in the tournament before reaching the 10-inning limit in a week, but James Arnold said he probably would not use him again.
The coach thought about pulling his son after the third inning to save him for later in the tournament, but stuck with him.
“I looked at it, but I felt he was doing what he needed to do to keep us in it,” James Arnold said.
Kodiak still has plenty of pitchers left — Jon LeVan, Aaron Polasky, Sam Kirchenschlager and Austin Frick — if it continues deep in the tournament.
“I feel real good about the pitching that we have available,”
Frick delivered Kodiak’s only run of the game on a single that scored Myles Wilson in the first.
Joey Mauer collected two of Kodiak’s seven hits.
Kodiak 15, Palmer 3
Kirchenschlager and Josiah Chya both hit home runs in Kodiak’s rout of Palmer to begin the tournament.
Frick had two singles, a double and drove in four runs, while Wilson had two singles.
Kodiak’s offense did not strikeout once against three Palmer pitchers.
Sam Bennett pitched a complete-game, allowing seven hits in five innings. He struck out nine and walked one.
KNIGHTS 8, BEARS 1
Colony 105 000 2 — 8 10 1
Kodiak 1000 000 0 — 1 7 4
McHugill and Hale; Arnold, Mauer (7) and Chya.
RBI: Colony — Ross 1, Palmer 4, Sanders 2, Cottingham 1. Kodiak — Frick. Home run: Colony — Palmer. Double: Kodiak — LeVan. Two hits: Colony — McHugill, Palmer, Sanders, Cottingham. Kodiak — Mauer.
Winning pitcher — McHugill (Struck out seven, walked one). Losing pitcher — Arnold (Struck out five, walked two).
BEARS 15, MOOSE 3
Palmer 001 11 — 3 7 5
Kodiak 126 6x — 15 10 2
Christiansen, Jensen (3), Reeder (4) and Stratton; Bennett and Chya.
RBI: Palmer — Stratton 1, Christiansen 1, Garretson 1. Kodiak — Frick 4, Chya 3, Jester 1, Polasky 1, Arnold 1. Home run: Kodiak — Kirchenschlager, Chya. Double: Kodiak — Frick, Arnold. Three hits: Kodiak — Frick. Two hits: Palmer — Perkins. Kodiak — Wilson.
Winning pitcher — Bennett (Struck out nine, walked one). Losing pitcher — Christiansen (Struck out none, walked four).