The Kenai Post 20 Twins went 2-0 to win Pool A on Tuesday in the Bill Miller Big Fish Wood Bat Tournament in Kenai.
The Twins beat West Post 1 11-2 and Woodinville (Wash.) Post 127 3-2. Woodinville defeated West 11-2 to take second in Pool A, while West was third.
In Pool B, Texarkana, which is a comp team and not a legion team, ruled the day. Texarkana topped Napoleon (Ohio) Post 300 7-3 and Wasilla Post 35 10-3. Wasilla took second in the pool with a dramatic, extra-inning, 3-2 victory over Napoleon in nine innings.
Today, all the action is at Coral Seymour Memorial Park. West and Napoleon play at 9 a.m., Texarkana and Woodinville play at noon, and the Twins face Wasilla at 3 p.m. The winners of the two late games meet in Thursday’s noon championship contest.
Hitting with wood bats is much tougher than hitting with aluminum, so pitching and defense become very important. The Twins (14-10 overall) excelled in those two areas Tuesday.
“With good pitching and good defense, good things happen,” said Twins assistant coach Hector Rivera.
Kenny Griffin pitched all seven innings in the victory over West. Griffin gave up just three hits and two runs — one earned. It took him 87 pitches to get through the outing.
The Twins had seven hits in the game, but were opportunistic. Post 20 took control of the game with five runs in the fourth inning.
Shayne Miller led the Twins on offense by going 2 for 3. Miller’s courtesy runner, Tyler Covey, stole two bases and scored three runs.
Also for the Twins, Brian Rowe was 2 for 3 with two runs and an RBI, while Tyler Fritz was 0 for 3 but still managed to score three runs.
In Woodinville, the Twins faced a squad that, according to head coach Alan Dillman, has a record of around 15-4 this year. But Woodinville is a 17-and-under team, while the Twins are a 19-and-under team.
As many wood-bat games do, the contest turned on the flash of leather and not the ping of aluminum. All three runs Woodinville yielded were unearned.
“They were a good team,” Dillman said. “When you give them runs, it’s tough to overcome that.”
The Twins jumped on top 2-0 in the bottom of the first. Hector Rivera reached on an error by the center fielder, then Griffin walked.
Both runners moved up on a wild pitch. Then Rivera scored on a grounder by Tommy Bowe and Griffin scored when Colin Corsetti beat out an infield hit.
Twins starter Dallas Pierren (4 2-3 innings, three hits, two earned runs) held Woodinville scoreless for four innings. In the fifth, Woodinville started going through the lineup a third time, and had Pierren figured out.
Derek Svanevik singled to score Conner Wytko, then Paul Sutton scored on a Matt Quarre grounder to tie the game.
The Twins scored the winning run in the sixth when Rivera led off with a single. Errors by the first baseman and shortstop allowed him to eventually score.
Henry Coba was the hard-luck loser for Woodinville, pitching six innings and giving up just four hits while striking out seven.
In many ways, Rivera was the poster child for what it takes to win wood-bat games. He figured out a way to score both times he reached base, and threw five runners out from his shortstop position. He had the Twins’ lone error of the game, but the runner that reached first was immediately cut down trying to take second.
“It’s perfect,” Rivera said of playing games with lumber. “I’d rather hit with wood than aluminum. The feel of the bat is amazing.”
Twins reliever Mitchel Daugherty retired all the batters he faced over the final 2 1-3 innings to nail down the win.
Daugherty would have been a senior at Soldotna High School this year, but he went to Florida to play baseball for the longer season and for more exposure.
He has a scholarship to pitch for Southwest Oregon Community College in Coos Bay next season.
Daugherty is 6-foot-5 and starting to get things figured out on the mound. Both Daugherty and the Riveras said Tuesday was Daugherty’s best outing as a Twin.
“His last three outings, he’s just been getting better and better,” coach Rivera said.
Daugherty said he had a great warmup Tuesday, came into the game focused, and had good movement on his two-seam fastball.
“It just shows we can compete with anyone,” he said, when asked what beating an Outside team meant.
Corsetti and Woodinville’s Chris Okura were the only players to collect two hits on the day.