American Legion Twins shortstop Erich Simpson makes a throw to third base for an out in the fourth inning of Saturday's second game at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
The American Legion Twins baseball team started its season strong Saturday at Coral Seymour Memorial park in Kenai, backing up a solid pitching performance with an early 3-0 lead.
Unfortunately, the Twins defense did not hold up as the visiting Bartlett Bears posted three unearned runs in the ninth inning to swipe a 4-3 win.
"It was an outstanding job. Our pitchers did well. We had what we needed, but we made a couple mistakes in the ninth inning. We just need some time," said Twins coach John Kennedy.
The Twins put together another solid effort in the second game of the doubleheader, notching a 4-2 win.
Luke Oliver of the American Legion Twins slides safely into second as Bartlett's Kyle Mansfield bobbles the ball in the first inning of the second game Saturday.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Jeff Kennedy, the Twins starter, said the pitching staff should be a strength for the team this season.
"We have our four starters back from last year. We have a lot of experience and some good new guys, too," he said.
The Twins entered the ninth inning with a 3-1 lead after Kennedy held Bartlett scoreless for the first six innings, scattering six hits but making pitches when he needed to. Kennedy struck out seven batters while walking just one, and got four ground-ball outs to end innings with runners on base.
Kennedy said the key to his success was being able to locate his pitches.
"And throwing in a curveball every once in a while and changing speeds, too," Kennedy said.
Luke Oliver took the mound in relief of Kennedy in the seventh. The Bears pushed across an unearned run on an error and three hits in the inning before Oliver got a strikeout to end the frame.
Oliver retired the Bears in order in the eighth and Cole Chappell took the ball in the ninth, but the Bears loaded the bases on a pair of walks sandwiched around an error. Bartlett tied the game on a sacrifice fly by Jeff Donaho and took the lead on a single down the right-field line by Tim Twombly.
"They helped us out a little bit. We got some timely walks and a couple of bleeder plays," said Bartlett coach Chris Williams. "Their scoring inning and our scoring inning were very similar. We just got one more run out of ours."
The Twins got all three of their runs in the bottom of the third inning. Nate Nelsen led off with a double to right field and Scott Foster drew a walk. Both advanced on a wild pitch and after a strikeout, Kevin Epperheimer hit a triple to the gap in right-center field to plate Nelsen and Foster. Epperheimer scored on a sacrifice fly by Jacob Madrid.
John Kennedy said that he was pleased with the way his team played their season opener, and that improvement will come with more experience.
"That's why we play nine and seven (innings)," said Kennedy of the doubleheader format.
Jeff Kennedy said he expects his teammates to continue to jell as the Twins take on Service in another doubleheader today.
"It'll come together," he said.
In the second game, Twins pitcher Alex Johansen was staked to a one-run lead in the second inning when Jordan Waters singled, took second on a sacrifice bunt by Chappell and scored on a single by Jeff Kennedy.
Bartlett plated two runs in the top of the third inning, but the Twins put together a three-run fourth inning. With one out, Chappell and Kennedy hit back-to-back singles and Travis Mercier drew a walk. Chappell scored on an infield grounder by Oliver and Kennedy and Mercier crossed the plate on a double by Epperheimer, who went 3-for-4 with two doubles in the game.
Johansen went six innings, striking out six while walking two, and Erich Simpson pitched the seventh, retiring the side in order for the save.
Bears 4, Twins 3
Bartlett 000 000 103 4 10 1
Kenai 003 000 000 3 5 4
Donaho and Knox; Kennedy, Oliver (7), Chappell (9) and J. Simpson. W Donaho. L Chappell. 2B Twins, Nelsen. 3B Twins, Epperheimer.
Twins 4, Bears 2
Bartlett 002 000 0 2 4 1
Kenai 010 300 x 4 7 1
Ridley, Forsyth (7) and Knox; Johansen, E. Simpson and J. Simpson. W Johansen. L Ridley. Sv E. Simpson. 2B Bartlett, Flowers; Twins, Epperheimer 2.
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