The American Legion Twins use wood bats in batting practice and in the batting cage to save their expensive aluminum for the game. This week, all that time with wood could pay off for the Twins.
The local side opened up play Monday in the Bill Miller Big Fish Tournament with a 6-2 victory over the Belmar, N.J., Mets at Coral Seymour Memorial Park. During the tournament, the teams will use wood bats. Normally, Legion teams use aluminum, which has far more pop and a bigger sweet spot than wood.
The wood bats didn't slow the Twins down Monday, as they banged out nine hits to overcome a 2-0 deficit.
"We showed some patience instead of going out fishing," said Twins manager John Butler. "As far as the mechanics of their swings, this is what we have been expecting all year."
The Twins also got a strong outing from starter and winner Jake Lamphier, who pitched 6 2/3 innings and gave up two runs one earned on four hits.
"You have to make the same pitches facing aluminum as you do facing wood, it's just that with wood you can get away with a lot more mistakes," Lamphier said. "Wood really gives the pitchers an advantage."
The game started two hours late because Belmar, coming from Anchorage, missed the turn onto the Sterling Highway and went to Seward before reporting to Seymour Park. Belmar still got on the board first, using two hits, two walks and an error to score two runs in the top of the third.
The Twins' bats warmed up in the bottom of the fourth inning. Josh Gilbert started the inning with a single, then Steven Mabeus followed with a double to the gap in left center to score Gilbert. After two outs were recorded, Kristopher Netchsert had a clutch single to score Mabeus.
The Oilers kept on hitting Mets starter and loser Casey Cannon in the bottom of the fifth. Justice Elson started the inning with a single, then a double over the center fielder's head by Jacob Bowler scored Elson. Tanner Pollack then singled to move Bowler to third. Cannon got the next two batters without allowing a run to score, but then walked Ethan Waters. Ben Stalker then had the biggest hit of the game, blasting a double over the center fielder's head that scored all three runners and gave the Twin a 6-2 cushion.
With runners on first and third in the seventh with two outs, Lamphier reached his pitch count limit so Butler summoned Stalker from the bullpen. Stalker struck out Chris Oujo to end the game.
Both Butler and Lamphier agreed that Monday was the best the Twins had played in three weeks. The only bad part of the game was a few misplayed ground balls.
"We were definitely a little lax in our fielding," Lamphier said. "Other than that, we all hit, stayed focused and did our job."
The Bill Miller Big Fish Tournament is a round-robin tournament which runs through Thursday at Seymour Park. Today, Excelsior, Minn., plays Belmar at noon. Belmar will then play the Twins at 4 p.m.
TWINS 6, METS 2
Belmar 002 000 0 2 4 0
Twins 000 240 x 6 9 2
Cannon, Magrini (6) and Cebulski, Brady (6); Lamphier, Stalker (7) and Waters. W Lamphier. L Cannon. LOB Mets 7, Twins 4. 2B Twins: Mabeus, Bowler, Stalker.
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