Story last updated at 1:52 p.m. Thursday, May 9, 2002

Head games help M's on diamond
by Sepp Jannotta
Staff Writer

Baseball is a game of deception by its very nature. Typically, the object is to deceive the other team.

Homer High School baseball coach Lary Kuhns was looking for a way to spark his young crew, so he practiced a little mental head fake on one of his own guys.

The move worked and helped the Mariners on their way to winning three of four games during last weekend's Mat-Su road trip.

Just prior to the first game of Saturday's doubleheader against host Wasilla, Kuhns told freshman starting pitcher Johnny Taylor that one of the Wasilla players had called him a name <> a bad name.

Never happened.

But Taylor reacted to Kuhns' story by pitching all seven innings of a 10-1 Mariner win. One of his two strikeouts in the game came at the expense of the supposedly foul-mouthed Warrior.

"I just wanted to see if I could get him fired up," Kuhns said of the normally mild-mannered freshman. "It must have worked."

The pitching performance was Taylor's longest outing on the mound yet.

For his part, Taylor put the emphasis on the defensive play of the eight guys backing him up.

"But that did kind of tick me off," Taylor said of the alleged trash talking. "It made me want to win all the more."

Ten runs of support also helps a bit.

Josh Fraley led the offensive onslaught, going 2 for 4 at the plate with a double and 3 runs batted in. Ben Kuhns was 2 for 4 with an RBI, while junior Adam Crum also went 2 for 4 and scored 2 runs.

The Mariners carried that momentum into the second game, as David Drake and Ben Kuhns combined on a 6 hit shut-out of the Warriors as the Mariners cruised to a 10-0 win.

Ben Kuhns provided three RBIs and went 3 for 4 with a double and a stolen base. Adam Crum was 1 for 3 with 2 RBI and Jim Pollack scored 3 runs on a 2-for-3 effort.

Earlier, the Mariners split a pair of games with Palmer, beating the Moose 9-3 on Thursday as Ben Kuhns tossed the full seven innings for the win, fanning four and giving up just one earned run.

Kuhns also helped his own cause with a fifth-inning home run and a 4-for-4 day at the plate with 2 RBIs.

Manna Chow and Taylor both went 2 for 4, with Taylor scoring 3 runs and Chow one.

The Mariners lone defeat on the road trip was a 5-2 loss against the Moose on Friday.

David Drake took the loss, despite pitching six solid innings and giving up only two earned runs as three errors cost the Mariners.

Drake had a pair of doubles on 3-for-4 hitting, while Taylor went 2 for 4 with two runs scored. Adam Crum was 1 for 3 with 2 RBIs. The Mariners also showcased their speed, swiping six bases in the game.

Lary Kuhns highlighted his team's defensive execution as he summed up the weekend's success, pointing out that the Mariners turned six double plays in four games, several times with the bases loaded.

"When you take a team and try to teach the fundamentals and the mental aspects of the game," Kuhns said. "And then you see the fruits of your labor applied on the field. It's a great feeling."