It’s never acceptable to miss the sign for the suicide squeeze as a batter. It is possible to make amends for missing that sign.
Tanner Pollack did exactly that in the second game of the American Legion Twins’ split with Chugiak on Sunday at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai. The Twins lost the nine-inning game 5-4 before winning the seven-inning game 7-4.
The Twins (2-2 overall) were trailing 4-3 entering the bottom of the sixth inning when they loaded the bases against reliever Casey Spink. Spink got the first out on a strikeout, bringing Pollack to the plate. Pollack missed the sign for the suicide squeeze, leaving Justice Elson to get tagged out at home.
“After I missed that sign, I just went out and tried to get a hit and score that run,” Pollack said.
Pollack laced a Spink offering to the gap in right-center, scoring Daniel Hepner and Luke Oliver. The Twins then added some insurance when Steven Mabeus singled to score Pollack, then avoided getting tagged in a rundown. Jake Lamphier made the Chugiak defense pay for the mistake, drilling a double off the wall in left-center to score Mabeus and give the Twins a 7-4 lead.
Starter and winner Larsen Kohler, who had battled arm problems during Soldotna High School’s spring campaign, finished off his complete game in the seventh. After a leadoff double by Zack Morse, Kohler induced a fly-out. Right fielder Jake Bowler then snagged a sinking line drive off the bat of Casey Spink a catch so good that Morse was long gone from second and easily doubled up. The catch was the second outfield gem in as many innings for the Twins. Pollack had made a nearly identical catch in center in the top of the sixth. Thanks to that defense, Kohler gave up just four hits in seven innings.
Mabeus said the play of Pollack, who will only be a high school freshman next year, in the second game is what the Twins will have to have to be successful this season. Mabeus was a redshirt freshman at Lewis-Clark State College in Idaho this season.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys on this team,” Mabeus said. “For us to win, those young guys are going to have to step up. Tanner came through with that hit today.”
Pollack was 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs in the second game, while Lamphier was 2-for-3.
Many of the same players on Chugiak’s Legion team went 8-2 in high school ball. Lamphier said getting a split against the Mustangs gives the Twins confidence.
“Beating Chugiak really showed us that if we stay with it and keep improving, we can be good this year,” Lamphier said.
Mabeus had not gotten a lot of work on the mound due to a muscle strain in his abdomen. He still gave the Twins seven good innings in the first game, giving up four runs on seven hits.
“He pitched really well in that first game,” Twins manager John Butler said. “I just wish we could have gotten him the win.”
When Mabeus left in the top of the seventh, the Twins trailed 4-3. In the bottom of the inning, Pollack singled with one out, then eventually scored due to an error by the center fielder. Pollack finished 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI in the game.
“We made several errors in the first game that kept the game tight,” Chugiak manager Bob Jones said. “Eventually, we were able to pull it out.”
In the top of the ninth, Chugiak’s David Sorenson doubled with one down against reliever Kris Netscher. Matthew Geurts then drove in the winning run with a double.
The Twins will face Eagle River in a 12:30 p.m. doubleheader on Saturday at Seymour Park.
MUSTANGS 5, TWINS 4, Game 1
Chugiak 010 010 201 5 10 3
Twins 000 120 100 4 5 1
Geurts, Griffith (5), Co. Spink (8) and Ca. Spink; Mabeus, Netscher (8) and Waters. W Co. Spink. L Netscher. 2B Chugiak: Ca. Spink, Sorenson. LOB Chugiak 7, Twins 8.
TWINS 7, MUSTANGS 4, Game 2
Chugiak 002 200 0 4 4 1
Twins 100 114 x 7 9 4
Stearns, Sullivan (4), Ca. Spink (6) and Henry; Kohler and Waters. W Kohler. L Ca. Spink. 2B Chugiak: Morse; Twins: Pollack, Lamphier. LOB Chugiak 5, Twins 6.
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