American Legion Twins center fielder Shaun Isaacs makes an out against the Peninsula Oilers in the fifth inning Thursday night at Coral Seymour Memorial Park.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
The American Legion Twins got a good look at some big time players, and the Peninsula Oilers got warmed up for tonight’s season opener as the two teams squared off in an exhibition game Thursday at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai.
“It’s a great experience for our guys. They can see what it’s going to take to play up,” said Twins coach John Butler following the game, which was won by the Oilers 3-1.
Butler said it was great for his players to see how the collegiate players on the Oilers squad communicated and worked together in the field.
“Our guys see that and hopefully, it sinks in with them that’s what ‘Think, Hustle, Communicate’ written on the back of their T-shirts means,” Butler said.
The Twins did play a solid game behind pitcher Mike Smith, who played the role of ringer for the Twins. Smith, the team’s assistant coach, played Division I collegiate baseball for New Mexico State before returning home to the peninsula.
Kip Masuda, the Oilers catcher, said the hard-throwing Smith was more than they expected coming into the game.
“A lot more,” Masuda said, “then we found out he went to New Mexico State. He knew what he was doing. It’s good to see something like that for the first game. It sets the tone for the season.”
Smith pitched all seven innings for the Twins, striking out eight and walking five. The Oilers scored three runs, two of them earned, on four hits.
“We have two games Saturday, two Sunday and two Wednesday, so Coach Smith saved all our pitching but we might have to take him to the doctor tomorrow to have his arm sewn back on,” Butler said.
The Oilers first run came in the second inning when Andre Lamontagne drew a walk and scored on a double to right by Brian Hickman.
Lamontagne, a pitcher by trade, got a chance to hit and play in the field while the Oilers wait for some more position players to get to town. In fact, five pitchers were pressed into field duty for the game, and the bottom third of the batting order was made up of assistant coaches Daniel Boyle and Hickman, and head coach Thad Johnson.
“There’s only four position players here, so some of the pitchers have a chance to have some fun swinging the bat a little bit,” Johnson said.
Boyle scored for the Oilers in the top of the fourth inning, reaching on a single, stealing second and scampering home on a single by Johnson. Chance Gerloff scored the third Oilers run an inning later. Gerloff was hit by a pitch, then advanced on a pair of passed balls and a wild pitch.
The Twins plated a run in the bottom of the seventh inning. Ethan Waters singled and advanced on a groundout. He took third on a fielder’s choice, and scored on a single by Ben Stalker.
“They were a little nervous to begin with, but after they settled down and started playing a little defense,” Butler said.
Masuda said he’s getting to know his pitchers as the team prepares for tonight’s game with the Stockton, Calif., Senators. The game is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
“I’m trying to find out their personalities, seeing if I can get on them or if I have to lay back a little bit,” Masuda said.
Johnson said the Oilers would rely heavily on their pitching staff until a few more players arrive. A few players are expected over the weekend, but several players are involved in regional NCAA tournament play with their collegiate teams, and a few schools are still in session.
“We’re definitely going to get a chance to see how good our pitching is. They’re going to have to take on the brunt of the work and throw some zeros up on the board,” Johnson said.
Notes: A pair of players from this year’s team were selected in the Major League Baseball first-year player draft this week. D.J. Hollingsworth, a pitcher from UC-Riverside, was selected in the 14th round and is expected to sign with the New York Yankees organization. Ryan Mottern, an outfielder and pitcher from Oklahoma, was selected in the 49th round by Cleveland but is expected to play for the Oilers this season. Chris Nelson, an outfielder from Riverside Community College in California, will fill Hollingsworth’s spot on the Oilers roster.
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