In the eighth inning of the first game between the American Legion Twins and Alaska Road Warriors of Wasilla at Coral Seymour Memorial Park, won 6-5 by the Twins, the Twins’ Tommie Bowe stole second base.
A Wasilla infielder then told Bowe that the pitch had been fouled off — it hadn’t — tricking Bowe into returning to first.
Bowe would steal second again later in the inning, but the trickery served as a good microcosm of the game — a victory was there for the taking for both teams, and both teams had trouble grasping it.
That was not the case in the second game. Warriors starter Jake Butcher had a firm grasp on victory the entire game, tossing a one-hitter in a 2-0 victory in nine innings.
The split left the Warriors at 9-1 in the league, while the Twins are 4-4 in the league and 5-8 overall.
In the first game, the Twins’ Colin Corsetti finally put an end to the contest in the eighth inning of a game scheduled for seven innings.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, reliever Shane Andrews opened with a strikeout before Hector Rivera walked and Bowe singled to put runners on first and third.
After Bowe restole second, Dallas Pierren worked a 3-0 count before swinging at ball four, then eventually striking out.
That left it to Corsetti, who stroked a ball over the head of right fielder Butcher to end the game.
“It feels good to get the hit that won the game because earlier in the game I made an error that they scored on,” said Corsetti, who finished 3 for 5.
The third baseman, who just graduated from high school in Unalakleet, also said the victory was important because it awarded a solid start by Tyler Fritz.
Fritz went 6 2-3 innings, giving up five hits and five runs — just two earned. It took a fine effort by Fritz to defeat the Road Warriors, who came into the game 8-0 in the league.
“It was probably my best game I ever threw,” Fritz said. “When I started warmups, I told my catcher, ‘I’m glad I’m throwing today.’”
Despite errors behind him, Fritz was able to navigate a powerful lineup — three times stranding runners at third base.
“I just had to tell myself the defense will make plays,” Fritz said. “All I have to do is throw strikes.”
The one player with which Fritz had no luck was Jonathan Boyer, who finished 2 for 4 with two doubles and three RBIs.
In the seventh inning, it momentarily looked like Boyer had ruined Fritz’s outing.
Facing a 4-3 deficit, Wasilla’s Cooper Hanson opened the inning with a single that left him on third after a two-base error by center fielder Ethan Oliver.
Hanson tied the game when he scored on an error by Corsetti that also put Tyler Hansen on second.
Fritz retired the next two batters, but Boyer then doubled to score Hansen, giving the Warriors a 5-4 lead and chasing Fritz.
The Twins were able to force extra innings in the bottom of the seventh when Wasilla returned the favor with a crucial defensive mistake.
Pierren and Corsetti singled in the inning, putting runners on second and third with one out.
With the infield in, reliever Tyler Boensch got the grounder he needed, but shortstop Mitch Chavin booted it to allow Pierren to tie the game. Boensch then pitched out of trouble.
In the top of the eighth, for the fourth time in the game, the Warriors put a runner on third but could not score him.
Against reliever and winner Tyler Covey, the Warriors had runners on first and third with one out when Hanson struck out and Morgan McJimsey was caught cheating off third for a rally-killing double play.
That missed opportunity proved costly when the Twins rallied to win in the bottom of the eighth.
“We had a lot of runners in scoring position,” Wasilla coach Myrl Thompson said. “We weren’t able to get the hits we needed to score them.”
Twin assistant coach Hector Rivera also was not happy with poor execution that almost wasted Fritz’s effort.
“We could have won this game a long time ago,” Rivera said.
Despite the tense finish, Fritz said becoming the first team to knock off the Warriors this season shows the ability of the Twins.
“We’re still a young team, but we have the talent,” Fritz said. “As long as everybody pays attention to what is going on, we should be able to beat anybody.”
Russ Ruta scored a pair of runs for Wasilla, while Jake Grissom was 2 for 4.
For the Twins, Oliver, Bowe, Pierren and Justin Wisnewski each had a pair of hits, while Rivera scored two runs. The Twins outhit the Warriors 15-6 in the game.
Butcher silenced those Twins’ bats in the second game. The lone hit of the game was by Rivera in the seventh inning.
“He had probably three or four pitches working for him,” coach Rivera said. “He was throwing strikes. That’s the main thing.”
Coach Rivera said Butcher wasn’t overpowering — he had four strikeouts — but added the Twins were not able to find the gaps on him.
Brandon Mahle took the loss for the Twins despite a solid start. He went seven innings and gave up an earned run on one hit. Jake Arnold pitched the last inning — the Twins were the visiting team on the scoreboard — at gave up a run on two hits.
“It was a pitchers’ duel,” coach Rivera said. “It was a fun game to watch.
“I can’t complain. We just couldn’t get the bat around on the kid and get runners on base.”
The Twins host Dimond at Seymour Park for a 12:30 p.m. doubleheader Wednesday.