With their batters still adjusting to live pitching, the American Legion Post 20 Twins used solid pitching to sweep a doubleheader from the South Peninsula Storm Wednesday at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai.
It was the first game of the year for the Twins and their batting practices leading up to the opener mostly concentrated on hitting the fastball.
"They threw a lot of junk at us," said Twins manager Lance Coz of the steady diet of curveballs and change-ups of the Storm's pitchers. "That's what we needed to see."
Post 20 had a total of 15 hits in the two games, but only one of those went for extra bases. However, they were able to win the ballgames 10-0 and 4-3 because of steady pitching and some shaky fielding by the Storm.
Danny Bookey and Severin Gardner combined to toss a five-hit shutout in the first game, while Joey Newby, Mike Sauer and Willie Castillo gave up just three runs and two hits in the second game.
"Our bats usually don't start off too strong, so we're going to be relying on pitching and defense," Gardner said. "That's what made the difference today."
Bookey set the tone by giving up four hits in shutting out the Storm in the first four innings of the Game 1. The 2000 graduate of Kenai Central did not start playing Legion ball until last season and saw limited time with the varsity squad, pitching only three innings.
However, he went on a trip to Arizona with Anchorage's East High School earlier this year and saw action in three or four games.
"I've been throwing since the beginning of the year," Bookey said. "Getting that head start in Arizona definitely helped me."
Gardner, who went 2-3 for the Twins last year, also got a head start in Arizona. He went down to the Lower 48 in May to pitch in front of a couple of college coaches. The coaches pointed out weak areas the 2000 graduate of Soldotna High School needed to work on.
"I had pneumonia at the beginning of the season so all I was doing was throwing," Gardner said. "I used that time to work on the weaknesses the college coaches showed me."
South Peninsula was a club team from Homer High School that is now making the transition into the Legion season. The team, in its first year of existence, went 7-3 during the high school season. Manager Doug Watanabe credited Stan McGordy and Post 16 in Homer for giving his squad the support it needed to put together a Legion team.
"I'm real grateful to those guys at Post 16," Watanabe said. "It falls into the category of having some men who want to see young men build character through athletics."
Part of building character is dealing with adversity. In Game 1, South Peninsula brought adversity upon itself in the third inning when three errors led to five runs, then again in the fifth when an error opened the gates to a four-run inning.
"We started out trading strikeouts every inning," Watanabe said. "I told the guys in the dugout it was going to be a short-run ballgame. I told them they had to stay in there, because one of the teams was going to blow up.
"Unfortunately, that team was us."
While the Storm fell victim to the 10-run rule in the sixth inning of the first game when Sauer singled in Gardner, the South Peninsula unit did a much better job of sticking with the Twins in the second game.
The Storm jumped out to a 2-0 lead before Post 20's Shaun Williams brought the Twins back in the bottom of the fourth. Williams doubled in Sauer and Castillo, then scored himself on an error to put Post 20 ahead 3-2.
South Peninsula's Skylar Burns stole home to tie the game in the top of the sixth, but Aaron Hughes drew a bases-loaded walk to force in Gardner with the winning run in the bottom of the seventh.
The Twins will take on West Saturday at Coral Seymour before hosting Chugiak Sunday. Both events are doubleheaders and begin at 12:30 p.m.
TWINS 10, STORM 0, GAME 1
South Peninsula 000 000 --0 5 5
Post 20 005 041 --10 5 2
Burns, Condon (6) and Young; Bookey, Gardner (5) and Edmondson. W -- Bookey (1-0). L -- Burns. LOB -- South Peninsula 3, Post 20 4.
TWINS 4, STORM 3, GAME 2
South Peninsula 020 001 0 --3 2 2
Post 20 000 300 1 --4 10 5
Condon and Shows; Newby, Sauer (4), Castillo (6) and Sanchez. W -- Castillo (1-0). L -- Condon. 2B -- South Peninsula: none; Post 20: Williams. LOB -- South Peninsula 6, Post 20 7.
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