Score early, score often.
That's been the rallying cry all season for the American Legion Twins. On Saturday, the club put it into action once in two tries.
The Twins used an eight-run second inning to bury the Wasilla Road Warriors in the first game of a doubleheader, winning 9-2 at Coral Seymour Memorial Park.
In Game 2, it was the Road Warriors who took an early lead and cruised to victory - 11-1 at Kenai Little League fields in a game called after five innings due to the mercy rule.
Both games counted toward league play. The Twins (5-7 overall, 5-4 league) host Eagle River for a doubleheader beginning at 12:30 p.m. today. Both games are at Seymour Park.
"We take batting practice so much that they know they have to jump on the other guys early," assistant head coach Gresham Oliver said. "We've really stressed the importance of early hitting, jumping on teams."
That's exactly what the Twins did in Game 1.
After the Road Warriors scored two runs in the bottom of the first against starting pitcher AJ Hull, the Twins wasted no time in erasing the deficit.
The Twins brought 12 hitters to the plate in the top of the second, stringing together six hits while capitalizing on three walks off the arm of Road Warriors pitcher Tim Rockey.
A walk sandwiched between a Josiah Covey double and an Ethan Oliver single loaded the bases with no outs for the Twins.
Mason Kanakis drew a walk to force in a run, making it 2-1. The Twins followed with three consecutive hits, capped by a Hull single to center that scored one and made it 6-2.
With two outs, Shayne Miller drove in two more with a double to deep right-center field. Eight different players scored in the inning.
Hull, who went 3-for-4 with two stolen bases, didn't need any more help.
The Kenai Central student pitched a complete game, scattering eight hits over seven innings on about 85 pitches.
Hull said he mixed in off-speed pitches with fastballs to keep the Road Warriors guessing. He threw mainly fastballs in the first inning, but turned to the off-speed stuff to set up the fastball from the second inning on.
"In baseball when you are pitching, you need to get the hitters' timing off," Hull said. "I started going more off-speed (after the first) and blowing the fastball by them."
Hull couldn't pitch early in the season because of a hip injury, but he has tossed two complete games in the past week.
The right-hander said pitching with a lead helped his confidence in Game 1 Saturday.
"Your margin for error increases," Hull said.
Teammate Josiah Covey went 2-for-4 with two doubles and a run. The Twins finished with nine hits, but six of them came in the eight-run second inning.
The hits were harder to come by in Game 2 as Hector Rivera had the lone RBI, coming on a single. Jake Darrow added a double, but that was about all the offense the Twins mustered. Wasilla had 12 hits.
"We have ballplayers," Hull said. "If the pitchers throw strikes and we limit the walks, we have a pretty good chance of winning."
Twins 8, Wasilla 2, 1st game
Twins 080 001 0 - 9 10 1
Wasilla 200 000 0 - 2 8 0
Rockey, Newman (5) and Palmer; Hull and Miller. W - Hull. L - Rockey. 2B - Twins: Covey 2, Rivera. LOB - West 7, Twins 6.