The American Legion Twins baseball team played to another exciting finish Wednesday, defeating the visiting Dimond Lynx 8-7 with a run in its final at bat at the Bill Miller Big Fish Tournament at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai.
In Wednesday's early game, the Post 39 squad from South Kingston, R.I., defeated Dimond 8-1. In the late game, the Twins wrapped up the round-robin portion of the tournament with a perfect record, defeating the Barlow Bruins from Gresham, Ore., 12-5.
Tournament play continues today. South Kingston will face Dimond at noon in the consolation game while the Twins will have a rematch with the Barlow Bruins at 3 p.m. in the tournament championship game.
Luke Mese provided the heroics for the Twins in the bottom of the seventh inning against Dimond. With two outs and and runners on first and second, Mese poked a single the opposite way, into right field. Cole Chappell never hesitated rounding third, and the throw home pulled the Dimond catcher a little ways up the third base line. Chappell was able to dance around the tag to score the winning run.
"I was a little bit nervous, but I just had to get the job done," Mese said of coming to bat with two out in the final inning of play.
The Twins had a runner on base to start the inning, but the Lynx were able to turn a double play, clearing the bases before Chappell came to the plate. Following Chappell, Jake Simpson was hit by a pitch, setting the table for Mese.
"The kids just keep playing and keep getting hits," said Twins coach John Kennedy. "It's exciting. I know they get a little upset with themselves when they make mistakes they shouldn't be making, but at least they keep bouncing back and fighting."
The Twins took an early lead, scoring a pair of runs in the first inning, then adding two more in the second. With runners on first and second, Jacob Madrid singled to right, allowing one run to score, and the second baserunner scampered home when the ball squirted past Dimond's outfielder.
Dimond took advantage of some Twins fielding mistakes in the top of the third, though, to pull to within a run, 4-3.
Kevin Epperheimer hit an RBI single to give the Twins a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the fourth, but Dimond's Jesse McCarty blasted a home run over the left field fence to tie the game in the top of the fifth.
The Twins made it 7-5 with two runs in the sixth. With Justin Simpson at second and Epperheimer on first, Jacob Madrid hit what might have been a double-play ball to shortstop. Epperheimer's slide into second disrupted the play, though, as the ball was knocked away from the Dimond second baseman. Simpson was able to score on the play.
That brought Erich Simpson to the plate, and while Epperheimer was picked off on a failed hit-and-run, Simpson was able to score Madrid from second with a single.
Twins starter Jeff Kennedy, who had pitched strong through six innings, left the game in the top of the seventh with one out and runners at first and third. Jake Simpson took the mound in relief, but Dimond was able to tie the game before Simpson could get the Twins out of the inning.
Simpson picked up the win when the Twins rallied in the bottom of the seventh.
With the pitching solid and the hitting coming around, John Kennedy said his squad just needs to tighten things up in the field.
"The defense has improved, but we still have a ways to go," Mese said. "We just need to stop making so many errors. (The other team) takes advantage whenever we make an error.
"Our pitching staff is awesome right now. We've got a lot of depth in it. When we have good solid defense, we can play with anybody."
The Twins proved that in the final game of the night Wednesday, defeating the Barlow Bruins.
Barlow actually jumped on the Twins early, plating four runs in the first inning and another in the second. Jeff Staehle hit a double for the Bruins in the first inning, and Jesse Jensen hit a two-bagger for Barlow in the second.
The Twins got three runs back in the bottom of the second, then sent 12 men to the plate in the fourth to score seven runs on seven hits and a pair of Bruins errors. Epperheimer and Jeff Holden had doubles in the fourth, and Justin Simpson hit a triple in the Twins' two-run sixth.
Alex Johansen picked up the win for the Twins, settling in after the first two innings.
The Bruins finish the round-robin part of the tournament 2-1, South Kingston went 1-2 and Dimond was 0-3.
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