Sometimes, when you’re good, you’re just plain good. And the bullpen at Wasilla Post 35 is just good right now.
Wasilla pitcher Ben Ross went all seven innings with only two hits in a 3-0 semifinal win over the Post 20 Kenai Twins on Wednesday at Coral Seymour Memorial park in Kenai, which puts the Road Warriors in the championship game of the Bill Miller Big Fish Wood Bat tournament.
The semifinal loss puts the Twins in a consolation match with Napoleon (Ohio) Post 300 today at 9 a.m.
The championship game, set for today at noon at Coral Seymour park, features Wasilla and the mighty East Texas Canes of Texarkana, a comp team from Texas, that beat Woodenville (Wash.) 3-2 on Wednesday.
Wednesday left the Twins thinking what could have been, as Kenai had the bases loaded with two outs in the sixth inning in an effort to rally for a win, only to have Kenny Griffin smack a pop-up to left field that crushed any hopes of a run or two. The batter before Griffin — Hector Rivera — hit a single that had Brian Rowe (on third base) gunning for home, but Rowe couldn’t get there in time, and the Twins settled for the second out.
But the handiwork of Ross wasn’t lost on the day. He kept a clean sheet until that critical sixth inning, when Rowe and Justin Wisnewski each had the lone hits of the game for the Twins. Rivera and Dallas Pierren each got on base in the fourth inning, but it went down in the book as a fielder’s choice and an error, respectively.
Tyler Fritz pitched the whole game for the Twins, giving up seven hits total.
Mitchell Chauvin provided the power for Wasilla, hitting 3 for 4 including a double, and had all three RBI. Wasilla scored a run apiece in the third, fifth and seventh innings.
For Ross, it also marked his American Legion debut.
“I came in wanting to throw a good game, obviously,” Ross said. “I’ve just been listening to what my coaches have been telling me this year, just pounding the zone and throwing strikes and letting the defense take care of the rest.”
Ross said his fastball was the deciding factor that worked the best for him all game long.
“They weren’t really hitting it well, they weren’t catching up to it, so I throw my fastball and use my curveball every now and then,” he said.
Wasilla coach Boone Thompson said he was pleased, especially knowing that Ross is near the bottom of the pitching lineup. Thompson said Ross has only thrown two innings all season.
“He’s been working the bullpen on a steady basis,” Thompson said. “We’ve been rotating our regular pitchers, so we just haven’t got down to him (this year).”
Thompson said it is to be decided on who will be on the mound for the championship game against Texarkana.
“Well we weren’t really planning on (making it),” Thompson said. “We’ve got a couple league games, three games in Juneau coming up this weekend, so we wanted to save our pitchers for that. We tried some kids who have been working the bullpen but haven’t seen much time in games.”
According to Thompson, Texarkana had four home runs off the Road Warriors in Tuesday’s opening round 10-3 win over Wasilla.
“They definitely have power, they’re a well-coached team, and they’re certainly a force to be reckoned with, especially when we’re looking at not much left on our pitching staff,” he said, laughing. “It should be interesting.”