By taking conference games at Coral Seymour Memorial Park on Saturday and Sunday, the American Legion Twins showed they are rounding into form for the start of the state tournament Friday.
Sunday, the Twins built on a 4-3 victory over South on Saturday by topping Bartlett 12-2 in six innings in the first game of a doubleheader. The game was scheduled for seven innings, but ended early due to the mercy rule.
Bartlett scored five runs in the top of the fifth inning to win the second game 11-8. That nonconference affair was called after five innings due to rain.
"This is back-to-back conference games where we've played really well," said Twins assistant coach Luke Oliver. "That's what we're looking for heading into the state tournament."
One essential element for a solid run in the state tournament is solid starting pitching. After AJ Hull turned in a complete game to beat South on Saturday, Josiah Covey pitched a complete game Sunday.
In six innings, Covey gave up six hits and two earned runs. He walked two, and struck out one. The Twins defense was up to the task of so many balls being put in play, committing just one error.
"That's one thing we've been focusing on - eliminating errors and making plays behind the pitcher," Oliver said.
The assistant coach said solid defense was not the only sign that his team was locked in mentally. The local nine also took an extra base whenever the Golden Bears didn't hit the cutoff man, and picked two Bartlett runners off.
"It's all the little things that win ballgames," Covey said.
Especially when a squad hits the ball like the Twins did Sunday. Bartlett starter and loser Brian Randazzo gave up 14 hits and 12 runs in six innings of work. Randazzo also was not helped when the Golden Bears committed five errors.
"We had a couple of base-running errors and a couple of fielding errors," said Bartlett coach John Larsen. "That's not the way we want to be playing at this time of the season."
Covey helped himself by finishing 3 for 4 with two triples, three runs and two RBIs.
"Their pitcher had a great game," Larsen said.
Covey said he worked on getting full extension on his swing before the game.
"I had a really bad day (Saturday)," Covey said. "I worked on my swing in the batting cage this morning and got it down."
Hector Rivera and Kevin Rowe also went 3 for 4 for the Twins. Rivera had three runs, while Rowe had two RBIs.
Also for the Twins, Jake Darrow was 1 for 3 with two runs, Hull was 2 for 4 with two runs and two RBIs, Ethan Oliver was 1 for 3 with a run, and Brian Rowe was 1 for 3 with a run.
For Bartlett, Jr. Wilson was 2 for 3, Nathan White had a double and a run, and Zach Schmidt was 2 for 2 with two RBIs.
In the second game, the Twins led 8-0 after three innings. However, Schmidt held the Twins scoreless for two innings, and Bartlett made the big comeback in the fifth against Ben Barton.
Barton went 2 for 3 to lead the Twins, while Chris Pasquale was 2 for 3 for the Golden Bears.
Twins 12, Golden Bears 2, 1st game
Bartlett 000 020 - 2 6 5
Twins 231 033 - 12 14 1
Randazzo and Gephardt; Covey and Miller. W - Covey. L - Randazzo. 2B - South: White; Twins: B. Rowe, Darrow. 3B - Twins: Covey 2, Hull. LOB - Bartlett 3, Twins 2.
Golden Bears 11, Twins 8, 5 inn., 2nd game
Bartlett 000 65 - 11 6 2
Twins 062 00 - 8 9 3
Sebastian, Schmidt (3) and Adams; K. Rowe, Pierren (3), Barton (5) and Morrison. W - Schmidt. L - Barton. 2B - Twins: Barton. LOB - Bartlett 7, Twins 7.