Overcast. Air thick with bugs and the threat of rain. Neither coach totally happy with what he is seeing on the field.
The dog days of summer have arrived.
The American Legion Twins swept East on Sunday at Coral Seymour Memorial Park. Both games were shortened due to the mercy rule. The Twins won the first 20-6 in five innings and the second 12-2 in six innings.
The Twins moved to 7-5 in the league and 9-10 overall, while East is 4-10. The Twins are in sixth place in the standings.
The dominant sweep may have been just enough to take the taste of the Twins getting swept Saturday by Eagle River out of the mouth of Twins’ coach Gary Oliver.
“Even though we won, I didn’t feel good about that game,” Oliver said after the first game.
Oliver said the Twins played hard, but he was also bugged by what he called a “nonchalant, cavalier attitude” that keeps resurfacing in the team from time to time.
“I don’t like it one bit,” he said. “I’ve got to figure out what to do about it.”
Oliver got to work right away on the problem, and he liked what he saw in the second game, saying the Twins were more focused.
“Our guys did get their attitude adjustment and they came out to play baseball,” Oliver said. “There’s still some stuff we need to clean up and work on.
“Overall, we performed much better today than yesterday.”
East finished with just eight players on the field in both games.
Head coach Ryan Murray said numbers have been low this year, and just nine players made the trip to Kenai.
In the first game, starting pitcher Austin Dabbs threw 1 1-3 innings before straining a back muscle. Dabbs tried to stay in the game as a right fielder, but by the top of the third inning he could not continue.
“It was a safety issue for the player,” Murray said.
East, the home team on the scoreboard, managed OK with two outfielders for two innings, even cutting a 9-2 Twins lead to 11-6 entering the top of the fifth.
But in the top of the fifth, the lack of an outfielder finally caught up to East, as the Twins got nine hits and nine runs to lead 20-6. Due to the lack of an outfielder, four of the hits in the inning were extra-base hits.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Twins starter Dallas Pierren closed out a solid outing to invoke the mercy rule.
Pierren went five innings and gave up six runs — four earned — on seven hits while striking out six and walking three.
“Dallas pitched a good ballgame,” Oliver said. “He had the performance which is expected of him.”
The Twins put up gaudy offensive numbers up and down the lineup: Ethan Oliver was 3 for 4 with two runs, two stolen bases and four RBIs; Brian Rowe had a double, three runs and an RBI; Tyler Fritz had two runs and two RBIs; and Colin Corsetti was 2 for 4 with three runs and an RBI.
Also for the Twins, Shayne Miller was 2 for 4 with three runs for courtesy runner Brandon Mahle and two RBI; Hector Rivera was 2 for 3 with a run and an RBI; Justin Wisnewski was 3 for 4 with three runs and three RBIs; and Dallas Pierren was 3 for 4 with three runs for courtesy runner Ben Barton and an RBI.
Murray said the bright spot for his team came on offense.
“We swung the sticks well,” Murray said. “Six runs should be enough to keep you in any game.”
Matt Schnellbaecher was 3 for 3 with two runs and an RBI, while Ryan Solberg was 2 for 3 and Justin Tapey was 1 for 2 with two runs.
East’s youth showed up in the second inning, when the Twins took advantage of five East errors to score nine runs. Solid defense could have held the Twins to two runs in the inning.
Murray said the goal for the team is to keep up the enthusiasm and keep learning in order to finish the season on a strong note.
Fritz gave the Twins another solid start in the second game. That was important because the Twins had used so many pitchers against Eagle River.
Fritz picked up the win by throwing five innings and giving up two runs — one earned — on six hits while striking out eight and walking two.
Mitchell Daugherty pitched a scoreless sixth, giving up just a hit.
On offense, Oliver was 1 for 2 with three stolen bases and three runs, Barton was 2 for 4 with a run and an RBI, Rivera had a double, RBI and two runs, and Pierren had two RBIs.