Twins fall in Bill Miller tourney

Posted: Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Having lost to Service on June 22 in the official opener of the Bill Miller Big Fish Wood Bat Tournament, the Post 20 Twins entered tournament play on Tuesday already behind the eight ball.

And when that game ended, too, they were still behind.

Three walks, a passed ball and a wild pitch to begin the game led to a pair of runs by Napolean, Ohio and the Twins weren't able to recover in falling, 2-0, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park.

The setback to Ohio, coupled with the 3-2 loss to Service (1-1), leaves the Twins at 0-2 for the tourney, in need of some serious help if they hope to play in Thursday's championship game one year after tying for first place.

"Things have got to fall in place for us to make the championship game," said manager John Butler, adding his teams has to beat Fairfield, Calif. at noon today and Ohio needs to defeat Service at 9 a.m., both at Coral Seymour, for the Twins to have a chance.

Larsen Kohler tossed a complete-game (seven innings), four-hitter for the Twins, striking out three and walking five, four of which came in the opening frame.

Unfortunately, those free passes were too much to overcome.

"Larsen was a little bit nervous because he's never walked that many guys," Butler said. "Once we got over the jitters, we started playing well, Larsen started pitching well and we just didn't hit the ball and to play with these guys, you have to hit the baseball."

Ohio starter Zach Betjer never let the Twins find a rhythm, allowing just one hit and two walks with eight strikeouts in a complete-game effort.

"He was around the plate and he just kept us off-balance," Butler said. "We never could get our bats on the ball."

Their best opportunity came in the third inning when Justice Elson reached on a two-out dropped third strike and advanced to third on a single by Josh Gilbert. But Ethan Waters grounded out to end the inning.

The Twins also had Gilbert in scoring position in the first inning after he took first on a dropped third strike and stole second, but Betjer got Waters to pop out to quell the threat.

"There wasn't a whole lot on either team offensively," Butler explained. "When you get pitchers around the plate and defenses playing good defense, games go like that.

"It was a good ballgame. It's a ballgame you like to be involved in."

Ohio (2-0) was involved in a similar game to begin the day when they beat Fairfield, Calif., 4-0, at Coral Seymour.

Starter John Kesler went the distance, surrendering three hits and no walks with a pair of strikeouts and was backed by three second-inning runs and another in the sixth.

"That first game between California and Ohio, both teams put the ball in play," Butler said. "Good defense by both teams, pitchers put the ball around the plate, both teams played hard and it was a good game to watch."

California then went on to beat Service, 10-0, in five innings at the Kenai Little League fields in improving to 1-1.

"The biggest thing is that our guys get to see these teams from the outside that have played 70, 80 games already this year," Butler said. "It's huge just to get on the field with them and play against them.

"If we stay fundamentally sound, sometimes we can play with these guys," he added. "California and Ohio are both fundamentally sound. They don't do much wrong."

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