Wasilla struck for two runs and loaded the bases with nobody out in the final inning before Raphael Matautia struck out three consecutive batters to preserve Kodiak’s 8-5 victory in the opening round of the Southcentral Conference Tournament at Hermon Brothers Field in Palmer.
Kodiak (10-5-1) moves into a semifinal game today against Palmer at 4 p.m. The winner earns a berth in the state tournament and a spot in Saturday’s championship game.
Palmer edged Kenai 5-3 to advance to today’s game.
The Moose handed the Bears their only conference loss of the season two weeks ago, 7-6. Kodiak won the nonconference game 11-1.
“We feel pretty good with Brandon (Mahle) on the mound,” Kodiak coach Rick Langfitt said. “I think we feel pretty fortunate to get out of that game with a win. We got our feet wet and are ready to go for Game 2.”
Senior Patrick Pickett collected three hits and a pair of RBIs. His triple in the first that scored Eddie Arellano Jr. opened the scoring for Kodiak.
The Bears scored three more in the first on singles by Matautia and Austin Frick, who later scored on a wild pitch. Matautia also added a sacrifice fly in the fifth.
Wasilla scored solo runs in the second, fifth and sixth to cut Kodiak’s lead to 5-3.
The Bears tacked on three big insurance runs in the sixth on singles by Arellano and Pickett. Arellano later scored on an error.
Kodiak made things intersting in the seventh when Wasilla scored two runs off of three walks, three wild pitches, one hit batter and one error.
Matautia, who came on in relief of Frick in the inning, walked his first batter to load the bases. He then struck out the next three to end the game.
“We need to close out a team when we have them like that,” Langfitt said. “I would have liked to come back and get four more runs in the secnd inning and not make it interesting.”
Including the final inning, Kodiak also got out of bases-loaded jams in the first and third. Twice Bears pitchers walked the bases loaded.
“We really were fortunate because we gave up a lot of walks in that game,” Langfitt said. “We walked nine and when you give up nine walks you usually lose.”
Arellano, who replaced starter Matthew Chavarria in the second inning, pitched five innings of relief to earn the victory.
In other games, Soldotna bounced Houston 9-6. A score was not reported for the Colony/Homer game.
BEARS 8, WARRIORS 5
Wasilla 010 011 2 — 5 8 3
Kodiak 400 013 x — 8 10 4
Borngraeber, Newman (6) and Fielder. Chavarria, Arellano Jr. (2), Frick (7), Matautia (7) and Pickett.
RBI: Wasilla — Swink. Kodiak — Pickett 2, Matautia 2, Frick, Arellano. Triples: Kodiak — Pickett. Doubles: Wasilla — Newman. Three hits: Kodiak — Pickett. Two hits: Kodiak — Frick, Arellano. Wasilla —Newman
Winning pitcher —Arellano (two strikeouts, one walks). Losing pitcher — Borngraeber (six strikeouts, three walks).