High School Sports

Homza's arm, bat lead South to state baseball crown

Jonny Homza was so instrumental in South's state baseball win Saturday that he received two Gatorade showers instead of one.

After Homza mostly dodged the first barrage of liquid glory, his teammates snuck in behind him with another tub and doused him a second time.

The junior pitcher hammered a solo home run and pitched a complete game for the Wolverines (11-3) in their 3-1 win over Chugiak (11-3) in the state championship at Mulcahy Stadium.

"It feels great, especially after our second-place finish (to Chugiak) last year," Homza said. "(It's) definitely good to come out on top."

In last year's contest, the Mustangs shut out the Wolverines 5-0.

Saturday's game marked the fourth straight championship appearance for the Wolverines, but it was their first win since 2013.

Homza, the 2015-16 Gatorade Alaska Baseball Player of the Year, threw at least one strikeout in every inning and finished with nine in the seven-inning game.

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Chugiak was limited to four hits, but Homza was quick to credit his defense.

"It's so much easier to pitch when you know you have great guys behind you to play defense," he said.

South jumped onto the scoreboard first in the top of the second inning.

Anthony Maldonado launched a ball into deep right to load the bases. The next batter, Julito Fazzini, nearly grounded into a double play, but he beat the throw to first and drove in courtesy-runner Trevor McGinnis to give South a 1-0 lead.

Chugiak responded in the bottom of the inning after a throwing error put Brady Lindberg on base for the Mustangs.

Cody Leslie's double in the next at-bat drove in Linderg to tie the game 1-1.

Then came Homza's solo shot in the third inning. With two out and nobody on base, Homza smashed the first pitch over the wall in deep left field and South regained a one-run lead.

"It was first-pitch fastball," Homza said. "I just swung and it went out."

Chugiak pitcher Jake Kindred saved a run in the sixth inning when he threw McGinnis out at home plate on a bunt by Sladen Mohl, but South's Matthew Kley scored on an error during the next at-bat that to make it 3-1.

Chugiak's best chance to even the score came in the bottom of the sixth. Homza, who was solid for most of the game gave up a double and two walks to load the bases with two outs.

But Chugiak couldn't capitalize and Homza escaped the jam.

When Homza struck out the final batter of the game, the Wolverines rushed the field.

"They were battlers and competitors the whole time," South coach Taylor Nerland said. "Our guys put in a ton of work over the break. (I'm) just very proud of them coming out and getting the win."

Earlier Saturday, Sitka survived a four-run fifth inning by Ketchikan to hold on for a 6-5 victory in the third-place game.

Braden Case hit a home run and drove in two runs lead the Wolves.

Nathan Bonck went 2 for 3 with a home run and three RBIs for Ketchikan.

In the fourth-place game, Wasilla's hot bats carried the Warriors to a 15-5 win over Lathrop.

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Ben Werner boosted Wasilla with four runs in four at-bats and Jeffrey Forster added three RBIs.

Wyatt Berg went 2 for 4 with an RBI for Lathrop and Vonche Wood tallied two runs.

ASAA/First National Bank state baseball tournament

Mulcahy Stadium

Saturday's scores

South 3, Chugiak 1, championship

Sitka 6, Ketchikan 5, third place

Wasilla 15, Lathrop 5, fourth place

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All-tournament team

Nathan Bonck, Ketchikan

Ky Stockel, Sitka

Parker Johnson, South

Ben Werner, Wasilla

Colin King, Lathrop

Vaughn Blankenship, Sitka

Jonny Homza, South

Jake Kindred, Chugiak

Matt Hess, Chugiak

Matt Kley, South

Mo Bullock, Ketchikan

Charlie Bucolo, Chugiak

Stephan Wiebe

Stephan Wiebe writes about all things Alaska sports.

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