Ben Stalker celebrates his game-winning hit with Steven Mabeus and Daniel Hepner following the first game of Saturday's doubleheader for the American Legion Twins against Dimond
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Jake Lamphier was wearing down.
Luckily for him and the rest of the American Legion Twins, Ben Stalker was just heating up.
Lamphier pitched eight scoreless innings before allowing the tying runs to score in the ninth and Stalker, who had struck out three times in his previous four at-bats, saved his pitcher by singling in the winning run with two outs in the ninth as the Twins defeated Dimond, 3-2, in the opening game of a doubleheader on Saturday at Coral Seymour Memorial Park. Dimond came back to earn a split with an 8-5 victory in the second game to drop the Twins’ record to 7-3.
“He was due. That’s all it is,” Lamphier said of Stalker. “He was due for his hit and he got it.”
Following a sterling performance through eight innings that included only three hits and one walk, Lamphier struggled in the ninth.
American Legion Twins' Ethan Waters slides into second after colliding with Dimond's Zach Eastlick in the eighth inning of the first game Saturday.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
With Arik McAlees on first after a fielder’s choice, Arnie Krogh sent a deep fly to right field which appeared to be the second out of the inning, but Jake Bowler misplayed it, allowing Krogh to reach safely.
After hammering a few Lamphier offerings foul, Josh Desmarais trimmed the deficit to 2-1 when he sent a 1-2 pitch into left field.With men in scoring position one out later, Lamphier’s pitch sailed past catcher Ethan Waters and to the backstop, allowing Desmarais to scamper home with the tying run before finally escaping the inning.
“The arm just felt good (Saturday) and the ninth inning I kind of threw too many pitches and some mistakes out in the field my mistake on the passed ball,” Lamphier said. “Late innings you’ve got to really focus and I kind of lost it there at the end.”
But he had no doubt his lineup would come to the rescue.
The Twins (8-2) strung together a two-out rally when Bowler and Tanner Pollack (2-for-4) knocked consecutive singles off Dimond reliever Colton Launers, who loaded the bases when he walked Josh Gilbert (2-for-3) on four pitches.
Suffering through an 0-for-4 day, including two strikeouts looking, Stalker needed only one pitch to win it, lining a single into the left-center gap.
“It looked like a watermelon,” Stalker said of the pitch. “After the first four at-bats, I just felt like I had to do something. I wasn’t really thinking of anything.
“I wanted to get to the plate so I could make up for the three strikeouts.”
Lamphier cruised until the ninth, never allowing a runner past second base while facing only four batters over the minimum.
He hadn’t lasted more than five-plus innings this season until Saturday, when he threw around 115 pitches.
“He had thrown eight real strong innings and I wanted to give him an opportunity to finish it out,” said Twins coach John Butler. “He stayed focused and that’s we expect out of him.
“He got tired and he started overthinking some of his pitches where we had a couple of guys out,” he added. “The error didn’t help any so he had to battle back after that.”
While Lamphier said he was sure his team would come through in the ninth, Butler didn’t seem as certain.
“Looked bleak there after the first two batters,” he said, “but you never give up and the guys will keep on battling and that’s what we’re trying to instill.”
The Twins recorded a base hit in every inning except the fourth and eighth and took a 1-0 lead in the third when Pollack and Gilbert walked and Steven Mabeus slapped a run-scoring single to right field.
They tacked on another run in the sixth as Waters reached base on an error, stole second and scored on a Justice Elson (2-for-4) single to right.
“I was completely confident. I knew they would do it,” Lamphier said of the rally. “It’s always been our strength. We always get it done in the late games when we need the win.”
In the second game, Kris Netschert got the start for the Twins and gave up seven runs in six innings. Butler said Netschert hasn’t gotten a ton of work in this year, got a little tired and got the ball up. Dimond was ahead 5-1 after the top of the third inning, but the Twins came back with a run in the bottom of the third and two runs in the bottom of the sixth. The Lynx then opened a big lead again when they got to Netschert for two runs and reliever Daniel Hepner for another run in the seventh.
“Our goal was to be .500 in June,” Butler said. “We actually talked to them about that. I told them we’re further ahead than we thought we would be. I’m real pleased with the effort, but we have to learn to stay focused for all four games, not just two.”
Matthew Carroll can be reached at email@example.com.
TWINS 3, LYNX 2, Game 1
Dimond 000 000 002 2 4 3
Post 20 001 001 001 3 9 1
Jones, Launers (7) and Knowles; Lamphier and Waters. W Lamphier. L Launers. 2B Post 20: Elson. LOB Dimond 5, Post 20 7.
LYNX 8, TWINS 5
Dimond 014 000 3 8 12 1
Post 20 011 002 1 5 6 1
Strid and Olson; Netschert, Hepner (7) and Elson. W Strid. L Netschert. 2B Dimond: Krogh, Riske. 3B Dimond: Strid. LOB Dimond 8, Twins 6.
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