The American Legion Twins split a doubleheader with Service on Sunday at Coral Seymour Memorial Park, a split that Twins manager John Butler said is a good sign for the future.
"They are gonna be tough at the (state) tournament," Butler said of the Cougars. "Dimond, Service and Chugiak are always tough. Service is a well-coached team. They're probably in the top four in the state."
Butler said notching a split against the Cougars shows that if the Twins keep improving, they are capable of making a run at the state tournament at the end of the season. The Twins are now 2-0 in the league and 2-2 overall, while Service is 4-1 overall.
In the first game, the Twins rallied for two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning for a 7-6 victory.
The winning rally started when Dylan Morrison, who finished 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI, reached first on an error. Braden Price, who finished with two hits and two runs, then reached on an infield single.
With Jake Darrow at the plate, reliever Garrett Brown threw two wild pitches -- the first moving runners to second and third, the second scoring Morrison and putting Price on third.
Darrow then hit a ground ball and the fleet-footed Price beat the throw home with a head-first slide.
"We had to stay in there and hang tough to pull off the win," said DJ Stilchen, who picked up the win on the mound thanks to the rally.
Stilchen went all nine innings and gave up four earned runs while walking two and striking out three. He also was 3-for-4 with two runs scored.
"I'm feeling alright," said Stilchen, when asked how his arm felt after throwing a complete game in just his second Legion start of the season. "My accuracy wasn't there, but I stayed with it."
Just as the long infield grass played a big part in the Twins' winning rally, the slow infield also helped Service get a few hits.
"Yes, because it's like a jungle out there right now," Stilchen said, when asked if he's anxious for the grass to receive a trim.
The Cougars also collected a few bloop hits, and Stilchen also had to overcome four errors and deep counts.
"He never quit, even with him not having his control," Butler said.
The Cougars jumped to a 3-0 lead in the game behind starter Bryan Beard. Beard pitched seven innings and gave up seven hits and five runs -- three earned -- while walking none and striking out four.
Stilchen scored an unearned run to make it 3-1 in the bottom of the third, but Service got that run back in the top of the fourth.
In the bottom of the frame, Morrison drove in Steven Steger and Stilchen scored another unearned run to cut the gap to 4-3.
Service got two runs in the sixth, but the Twins got those two runs back in the seventh. The Twins loaded the bases with nobody out, but Beard was able to record two outs without a run scoring.
Josiah Covey then rolled a ground ball through the middle of the infield to score Morrison and Price and set up the winning rally in the ninth.
"He stayed on the ball and hit it solid," Butler said of Covey's hit. "He's a clutch hitter."
Zac Ferntheil was 3-for-5 with two runs for Service, while Trace Woodruff had two hits and an RBI, and Cory Wiles was 2-for-3 with two runs.
"Kenai always comes prepared," said Service coach Ken Wooster. "They played better than we did in the first game."
The Cougars came back to pick up a 10-8 victory in the second game, which was a nonconference contest.
Mikey Griffin got the start for the Twins and yielded eight runs in four innings, but the Twins eventually worked their way back into the game by scoring five runs in the bottom of the seventh.
The Twins committed five errors in the game, while Service did not make an error. Cory Wiles picked up the win for Service, going five innings and giving up a run and three hits.
Covey was 2-for-4 with two runs and three RBIs to lead the Twins. For Service, Ferntheil had two hits and two runs, Beard was 3-for-5 with two runs, and Cory Crabb was 3-for-4 with two runs.
The Twins host West in a 12:30 doubleheader on Wednesday.
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