Both Dimond and Kenai showed some early season jitters in the first American Legion game of the season for both teams Saturday, with the Lynx coming out with a sloppy 9-8 win at Coral Seymour Memorial Field in Kenai.
In the second game, the Twins earned a split with a 10-9 victory.
In the first game, the Twins were hampered by both defensive lapses in the field and trouble at the plate, as Dimond pitchers struck out 16 Twins batters including nine by starting pitcher Jesse McCarty.
"I was very happy with our pitching," Dimond manager Steve Stralka said following the game.
The Twins were led at the plate by shortstop Kevin Epperheimer, who went 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Dimond designated hitter Sterling Speight led way for the Lynx, going 2-for-5 with a double and a triple. Speight also pitched the ninth inning to pick up the save.
Kenai pitchers also were sharp in their first outing of the year, as three Twins pitchers combined to allow just three earned runs in the game. Costly errors, however, led to a slew of unearned runs that ended up giving the Lynx the advantage.
Following the game, Twins head coach John Kennedy said he was pleased with the effort of his squad, despite the final score.
Notwithstanding the Twins struggles in the field, Kennedy said he was impressed with the way his team battled the Lynx until the final out.
"They kept fighting the whole game," he said. "It was back and forth."
The Twins got on the board first thanks to some early jitters by McCarty. McCarty hit Twins leadoff hitter Jacob Madrid with the first pitch he threw, then plunked the next batter, Jeff Kennedy.
Epperheimer then laid down a bunt that McCarty threw into right field, scoring Madrid. A walk to second baseman Brett Toering loaded the bases, but McCarty settled down to strike out the next three Twins batters and end the threat.
From then on, McCarty got into a groove, retiring the next six batters he faced.
The Lynx finally got to Twins pitcher Alex Johansen in the third. With one out, Dimond leadoff hitter Chris Werts hit a line drive that reached the wall in left-center field. The speedy Werts managed to get a triple on the play, and scored when the next batter, Loren King, doubled to right center.
Things got a bit ugly for the Twins at that point. Center fielder Luke Mese dropped an easy fly ball off the bat of Dimond catcher Tyler Doil, advancing King to third base. King scored during the next at-bat when catcher Jeff Kennedy was unable to corral Johansen's low fastball. That play was followed by a base hit by Dimond's Arnie Krogh that scored Doil, who had advanced to third on the passed ball.
Post 20's Brett Toering throws the ball to the mound in the sixth inning of Saturday's first game.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
The next Dimond batter, Jason Stralka, knocked Johansen's offering into center, but Kennedy atoned for his earlier error by cutting down Krogh's attempt to reach third base. The Twins then got out of the inning when Speight hit an easy fly ball to Mese.
The game was a back-and-forth affair throughout, and true to form, the Twins fought back in the bottom of the inning. After Epperheimer touched McCarty for the first Twins hit of the game and right fielder Jordan Waters reached on an error, Twins left fielder Garrett Bossert smacked a triple off the wall in right center that scored two to tie the game at three apiece.
In the fifth inning, the Twins took advantage of a tiring McCarty to take a 6-3 lead. With action in the Dimond bullpen, Epperheimer followed a walk to Kennedy with a run-scoring triple. After a walk to Brett Toering and a sacrifice bunt by Waters, Bossert was walked intentionally to load the bases.
The move didn't pay off for the Lynx, as McCarty proceeded to walk Mese to score another run. Stralka yanked McCarty in favor of Bryce Kron, who threw a wild pitch to Chase Townsend that scored Toering from third. Kron was able to settle in after that, striking out Toering and getting Johansen to fly out.
Dimond used some timely hitting and sloppy Twins defense to retake the lead in the sixth. After Speight hit a one out triple, it looked as if Johansen would get out of the inning unscathed when he struck out Scott Schlosser swinging. But a base hit by Ben Parker scored Speight, and after Parker stole second on the next pitch, he scored on a seeing-eye ground ball by Connor Scott that just slipped through the Twins infield.
Werts then hit a ground ball to Epperheimer that should have ended the inning, but the Twins shortstop booted the grounder into center field, then struggled getting it back in.
In the ensuing mayhem, Scott scored from second base to tie the game. King then came up and cracked his second double of the game off the wall to give Dimond a 7-6 lead.
The error illustrated a problem the Twins had throughout the game, as they handed the Lynx extra opportunities on a number of occasions.
"That's the thing that hurt us, we just made a few crucial errors," Kennedy said.
Neither team was sharp defensively, as the game featured 12 errors, including eight by the Twins.
The Twins defense gave Dimond another run in the seventh. With Townsend on the mound to relieve Johansen, Jeremy Nielson hit a liner to center that Mese struggled getting back in, allowing Nielson to take second. On the next pitch, he stole third, then scored when Dahl hit a ground ball to Epperheimer, who had no choice but to take the out at first base.
In the eighth inning, the Twins got a couple good breaks to briefly tie things up. With two on and two out, Issacs struck out swinging, but the ball got past Doil, allowing Issacs to reach first and extend the inning. That play would prove costly for the Lynx when Schlosser misplayed Jacob Madrid's fly ball to left, allowing both Bossert and Townsend to come home.
The tie didn't last long, however, as Dimond added what would prove to be the game-winner in the top of the eighth. The run, like most of Dimond's, came after mistakes by the Twins defense. After Scott drew a walk from Temple, the Dimond center fielder advanced to second on a wild pitch. The next Dimond batter, Werts, hit a sharp grounder that got under Epperheimer's glove at short, allowing Scott to score on the play.
The Twins took the second game in wild fashion. The Twins had a 5-4 lead heading into the sixth inning, but Dimond struck for four runs and an 8-5 lead. The Twins cut it to 8-7 at the end of six, but Dimond extended the lead to 9-7 in the top of the seventh.
The Twins rallied in the seventh, with Tyler Chappell scoring on a single from Madrid for the 10-9 victory. Madrid had two runs in the game while Epperheimer had four runs and Toering had two RBIs.
Jordan Waters had the win in relief for the Twins.
The Twins will face West in a doubleheader at Coral Seymour Memorial Park at 12:30 p.m. today.
LYNX 9, TWINS 8, Game 1
Dimond 003 004 110 9 12 4
Twins 102 030 200 8 5 8
McCarty, Kron (5), Speight (9) and Doil; Johansen, Townsend (7), Temple (8) and Kennedy. W Kron. L Temple. 2B Dimond: King (2), Speight. 3B Twins: Bossert, Epperheimer. Dimond: Werts, Speight. LOB Dimond 11, Twins 11.
TWINS 10, DIMOND 9, Game 2
Dimond 200 114 1 9 7 1
Twins 202 012 3 10 4 4
Stracko, Werts (4), Krogh (5), Kron (7), King (7) and King; Epperheimer, Madrid (5) and Waters (7). W Waters. L King. 2B Dimond: Stracka; Twins: Mese. LOB Dimond 4, Twins 6.
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