East pitcher Anton Maxwell gave the Kenai American Legion Twins a glimpse of perfection Saturday, striking out 16 Twins hitters on his way to retiring all 18 batters he faced in the second game of a doubleheader.
Maxwell, who recently completed his freshman season at Feather River Junior College in California, completely dominated the perfect game from the first pitch, striking out the first 12 Twins batters he faced in the 13-0 victory.
Only the Twins' Brett Toering and Scott Foster managed to avoid striking out both times they faced Maxwell, each of them grounding weakly back to the East star on bunt attempts their second time up.
With Maxwell shutting things down on defense, the T-Birds were able to assert themselves on offense, scoring 13 runs in the six-inning game to complete a two game sweep.
"We were beat almost before the game started," Twins head coach John Kennedy said following the game. "The kids had seen him last year and knew how good he was."
Kennedy didn't want Maxwell's intimidation factor his fastball has been clocked in the low-90s and he's likely to be drafted in next week's Major League draft to take away from the pitcher's remarkable performance on the mound.
Post 20's Chase Townsend pitches in the seventh inning of the first game against East Anchorage Saturday afternoon.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
"Give him credit, he did a great job," Kennedy said.
East 8, Twins 7, Game 1
Close doesn't count.
The Kenai American Legion Twins learned that lesson the hard way Saturday, dropping a 8-7 decision to the East Thunderbirds that saw the Twins come within 90 feet of tying things up in the ninth inning.
In a back-and-forth affair, the Twins nearly pulled off a dramatic victory after East took an 8-5 lead heading into the ninth on a two-run double by East first baseman J. Scott.
Twins second baseman Kevin Epperheimer got the rally going with a single to right field off East pitcher Chad Nading. Left fielder Garrett Bossert drew a walk, and after the runners advanced a base on a passed ball, Twins center fielder Shawn Isaacs smacked a two-run single into center that cut the East lead to one.
The Twins then loaded the bases on walks to Luke Mese and Scott Foster, but East relief pitcher Jon Poland was able to retire the final two Twins batters to preserve the win.
"We tried to let them back into it," East coach Tony Wylie said following the tight finish.
Wylie gave the Twins a lot of credit after Saturday's first game, saying he believes Kenai's team showed plenty of grit by fighting the T-Birds the defending Alaska American Legion champions until the end.
"They look like they're going to be pretty good," he said.
The Twins struck first in the bottom half of the first inning, turning Madrid's leadoff triple into a run when East catcher Jake Plancich threw the ball into center field on Epperheimer's steal attempt.
Madrid was the Twins leader all game, going 3-for-5 with a double, triple and two RBI.
"He's our spark plug," Twins head coach John Kennedy said following the game.
The Twins first baseman said he's not really doing anything special this season at the plate, other than trying to practice solid fundamentals.
"I'm just looking to get on base and score some runs," he said.
East tied things up with an unearned run in the third inning. After Twins center fielder Shawn Isaacs dropped a Mike Akers fly ball, Twins starter Jeff Kennedy appeared to get rattled a bit, walking the next East batter, Tyler Waldron, on four pitches. Akers advanced to second during Waldron's at-bat, then moved to third on a Brett Sherwood ground ball the Twins were unable to turn into a double play. He later scored on a passed ball, knotting things at 1.
Nading came through for the T-Birds in the top of the fifth, knocking his third hit of the game into center field with the bases loaded to score two runs and give East its first lead of the game. Nading who also pitched 2 1-3 innings in middle relief to pick up the win led East by going 4-for-4 with two RBIs.
Kennedy left the game after the fifth, giving up four runs on six hits and striking out four in a solid performance. Both starting pitchers would leave the game after five innings of work, with East's Sherwood giving up two runs and striking out eight before tiring.
Madrid's third hit of the game helped the Twins fight back to tie the score at 5 in the seventh. After East relief pitcher Wade Zelazny walked Twins reliever Chase Townsend to start things off, Cole Chappell reached on an error by Nading at first to put runners on first and second. Madrid then lined Zelazny's pitch into center to score Townsend, and the next batter, Epperheimer, brought Chappell home with a bloop single.
That would be it for Zelazny, as Nading moved from first base to take the mound. He was able to settle things down a bit for East, but not enough to hold the lead. With Nading in to pitch, Madrid scored the Twins' fifth run of the game when Plancich again threw the ball into center on Epperheimer's second stolen base of the game.
The tie score didn't last long, however, as East again pulled ahead in the eighth thanks mainly to Trevor Harrison's base running. The East right fielder singled, then stole second and third base before scoring when Chappell misplayed Waldron's ground ball, allowing East to get the go-ahead run.
The East tally was one of four unearned the Twins gave up in the game, something Kennedy said made the loss that much more difficult to take.
"That one hurt," Kennedy said. "We just gave up too many unearned runs."
THUNDERBIRDS 8, TWINS 7, Game 1
East 001 030 112 8 9 5
Twins 100 010 302 7 8 3
Sherwood, Zelazny (6), Nading (7), Poland (9) and J. Plancich; Kennedy, Chappell, Townsend and Waters. W Nading. L Townsend. 2B Twins: Madrid; East: Nading (2), Scott. 3B Twins: Madrid. LOB Twins 8, East 9.
THUNDERBIRDS 13, TWINS 0, Game 2
East 021 307 13 9 0
Twins 000 000 0 0 2
Maxwell and J. Plancich; Isaacs, Bowler, Bossert and Kennedy. W Maxwell. L Isaacs. 3B East: Waldron. LOB Twins 0, East 6.
Clarion reporter Jeff Helminiak contributed to this story.
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