The American Legion Twins faced solid starters for two games in a row. The results could not have been more different.
Sunday, Jacob Butcher of the Alaska Road Warriors of Wasilla threw a no-hitter against the Twins, a nine-inning gem that required just 94 pitches.
Wednesday at Coral Seymour Memorial Park, the Twins faced Dimond’s Jordan Clevenger on the bump. Clevenger has two victories this year over powerhouse Service — one in high school, one in Legion — but the Twins jumped all over him in a 13-3 decision that was shortened to five innings due to the mercy rule.
The Twins kept rolling in the second game, again invoking the run rule in a 12-2, five-inning, nonleague victory.
“Our bats are waking up, especially after that no-hitter,” Twins assistant coach Hector Rivera said. “Everybody is making sure they are swinging at strikes and hitting where the pitch takes them.”
The Twins piled up 11 hits in the five innings of the first game. Most of them weren’t cheap. Tommie Bowe led the parade of extra-base hits with a double and a triple, while Tyler Fritz and Ethan Oliver added triples, and Colin Corsetti had a double.
The temperature topped out at 73 degrees on Wednesday. Seymour Park is known as a pitchers’ park, but balls were carrying Wednesday, and Dimond coach Brad Lauwers said that may have thrown off his outfielders a bit.
But he also was quick to credit the Twins’ bats.
“I think they did a good job,” Lauwers said of the Twins. “The way we’ve been playing recently, we’ve found ourselves behind early in a lot of games.
“Sometimes we are able to make it back, and sometimes we can’t.”
In a nonleague game earlier this season in Anchorage, Dimond scored five runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to defeat the Twins. The local nine took pains to get out of striking distance this time.
The Twins took a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the third, then sent 12 batters to the plate in scoring eight runs in the inning.
Clevenger was chased after 2 1-3 innings, giving up eight runs — seven earned — on seven hits.
The top three of the Twins’ order worked like clockwork. Leadoff batter Oliver and No. 2 hitter Hector Rivera reached base on 3 of 4 occasions. Each scored three runs. Bowe, hitting third, went 4 for 4 with three runs and six RBIs.
Corsetti was 2 for 3 with a run and an RBI, while Dallas Pierren, Shayne Miller and Fritz each had a hit, run and RBI.
The beneficiary of all the offense was Twins starter and winner Pierren. He went five innings, giving up five hits and three runs — just one earned.
“They played really solid defense behind me,” Pierren said. “They only made one error.”
But Pierren said the best thing his team did for him was score a lot of runs.
“We’re swinging hot bats right now,” said Pierren, who will be a senior at Kenai Central this year. “We had a slow start, but now we are hitting.”
That continued to be the case in the second game. The Twins had six hits in scoring 12 runs.
Josh Darrow was 2 for 4 with two runs and four RBIs, while Ben Barton was 2 for 3, Kenny Griffin was 1 for 3 with an RBI, and Mason Prior was 1 for 1 with two runs and an RBI.
The Twins used three pitchers to hold Dimond to just one hit.
Mitchell Daugherty started and gave up two runs and a hit in two innings. Jake Arnold pitched two innings of hitless and scoreless ball, while Corsetti tossed one inning of hitless and scoreless ball.
“They played pretty good,” coach Rivera said. “They made two errors, but there were no consequences.”
Both Pierren and coach Rivera said they think the Twins are rounding into shape for a solid stretch run.
The Twins are in fourth in the league standings with a 5-4 record and 7-8 overall record. Wasilla, Chugiak, South and Dimond (6-6, 7-9) are in front of the Twins, but all have played at least two more games than the Twins.
Further, the Twins have already played all their league games against three of the top four, meaning the strength of schedule should drop for the stretch run. The Twins still have a league game against South.
“Everybody is accepting their role and responsibility,” coach Rivera said. “They’re coming together as a team.”