Mitchell Thompson was the poster boy for the fate of the American Legion Twins on Sunday at Coral Seymour Memorial Park.
After the first game against West, an 11-4 loss to West called after eight innings due to the mercy rule, the Twins received a stern lecture from manager John Butler, but Thompson got even more face time with Butler after the team's dressing down.
In the second game, a 6-5 win for the Twins, Thompson redeemed himself by throwing five strong innings even though he had not pitched in two years.
West is now 5-6 in the league and 5-8 overall, while the Twins are 3-5 in league and 7-9 overall.
"He threw the ball well and held his composure well for a young guy, because he received a stern talking to after the first game," Butler said.
In the first game, Thompson missed a sign in the eighth inning. Butler also wasn't happy with his positioning at first base, and the fact that he was out of position for a cutoff throw.
In the second game, Thompson gave up two runs, one earned, and one hit while walking three. Thompson left the game with a 4-2 lead, but West scored two runs off reliever Mikey Griffin in the sixth to tie the game.
Bobby Myles scored in the bottom of the sixth to give the Twins the lead, but West fought back with another run in the top of the seventh.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Twins loaded the bases with one out. Bobby Myles hit a foul pop fly to right field which Conner Cleary caught, but he had no chance to get Josh Gilbert scampering home with the winning run. Griffin picked up the win.
Jake Darrow led the Twins at the plate in the second game with two hits and two RBIs, while Butler said Steven Steger made two great plays in right field.
In the first game, West pitcher Brady Grisham bottled up the Twins bats to pick up the win. Grisham pitched all eight innings and gave up five hits and four runs, three of which were earned, while walking four and striking out nine.
The all-Cook Inlet Conference pitcher improved his record this year to 2-0.
"He was lights out today," West acting manager Gary Prokosch said. "Everything was working for him."
And, according to Butler, nothing was working for the Twins. He said the team went over two-strike hitting at batting practice before the game, then completely failed to take a proper two-strike approach during the game.
"We didn't hit well, pitch well, field well, throw well and our assignments weren't right," Butler said. "It's embarrassing."
Twins starter and loser Josh Gilbert struck out 12, but gave up eight hits and seven runs -- four earned -- in seven innings. Gilbert only walked two, but he often went deep into counts, throwing 128 pitches.
"He couldn't hit his spots," Butler said. "He had 12 strikeouts, but that doesn't do you a lot of good when it's 3-2 all the time.
"He left the ball up and West is a high-fastball hitting team."
Prokosch got a lot of production from the top of his lineup. Leadoff hitter Steve Hammill had two hits and three runs, No. 2 batter Sean Muller had two hits, two runs and an RBI, No. 3 batter Hugo Delacruz was 3-for-4 with five RBIs and two runs, and cleanup batter John Harrison had two hits and three RBIs. Kyle Cleary, batting No. 6, also had two hits.
"The last couple of games we've been hitting the ball a lot better and it's because of patience," Prokosch said.
The Twins trailed 2-0 entering the bottom of the third when John Hughes reached on a bunt and scored on a single by Griffin, who finished 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI.
West padded the lead to 7-1 by the end of the sixth inning. Butler gave credit to West for hitting the ball well, but also said his defense aided the opposition too much.
"Our defense could have turned some things around and didn't," Butler said. "Give a team like that confidence and the baseball starts looking like a volleyball, and ours starts looking like a grape."
The Twins cut the gap to 7-2 in the bottom of the seventh when Vinnie Madrid walked and scored on a single by Larsen Kohler, but West got to Griffin for four runs, three of which were earned, in the top of the eighth.
The one positive Butler saw in the game was that his team did not give up in the bottom of the eighth. Griffin started the inning with a triple and then scored on a single by Gilbert. Gilbert would eventually come around to score on an error.
The Twins travel to Anchorage to face Service in a 12:30 p.m. doubleheader Saturday.
Eagles 11, Twins 4, 8 inn., 1st game
West 020 032 04 -- 11 13 3
Twins 001 000 12 -- 4 5 5
Grisham and H. Delacruz; Gilbert, Griffin (8) and Myles. W -- Grisham. L -- Gilbert. 2B -- West : Harrison. 3B -- Twins: Griffin. LOB -- West 9, Twins 7.
Twins 6, Eagles 5
West 000 202 1 -- 5 4 2
Twins 030 101 1 -- 6 7 3
Moncione, A. Delacruz (6) and H. Delacruz; Thompson, Griffin (6) and Myles. W -- Griffin. L -- A. Delacruz. 2B -- West: Hammill. LOB -- West 6, Twins 8.
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