The Kenai American Legion Post 20 Twins closed out a four-game series with the Fairbanks 49ers with a 14-3 win Thursday at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai.
The Twins took three of four games from the 49ers a District II rival giving the team a boost as it works toward the end of the regular season and the district tournament in Fairbanks.
“It gives us some momentum going into districts, especially knowing we can beat both teams in our district. Ending the season on a strong note is just going to help us in the postseason,” said Twins’ Jake Simpson, who picked up the win on the mound Thursday.
The Twins have plenty to do before thinking about the district tournament. Kenai will host nondistrict opponents Chugiak and East this weekend the top two teams in Anchorage before visiting Wasilla Wednesday for a district doubleheader Wednesday.
“(Taking three of four games) is good, but we haven’t swept anyone yet. We’re still looking for that goal,” said Twins’ Luke Gilbert.
“We need to go and beat Wasilla twice next week,” added Kevin Epperheimer.
The Twins put together one of their most complete games of the season against Fairbanks Thursday.
“All three parts pitching, defense and offense,” Epperheimer said when asked to explain how the team came together during the series.
Simpson pitched five scoreless innings for the win, striking out one, walking two and allowing two hits.
Josh Gilbert pitched two innings in relief, closing out the 10-run-rule-shortened, 7-inning game.
“I was throwing strikes, and I got a lot of ground balls. My change-up was working, and it was nice having all these guys make all the plays. We played good defense, and scored some runs today,” Simpson said.
Twins coach John Butler credited Gilbert with an outstanding defensive game at shortstop, and Luke Oliver led the Twins hitters with a 2-for-4 day, including a triple, three runs batted in and three runs scored. The Twins pounded out 12 hits on the day.
The Twins plated a pair of runs in the first inning, and added four in the fourth inning. Gilbert had the big hit in the inning, driving in a run with a double to the wall in left.
Simpson hit a two-run double in the Twins’ four-run sixth, and Oliver’s triple drove in two of the three runs in the seventh inning.
“We needed that to give us a little breathing room going into Wasilla for the No. 1 seed in the district,” Butler said.
Butler said that after dropping the second game of Wednesday’s doubleheader, the Twins took a different approach at the plate Thursday, looking to play small ball to move runners along.
“Coming into today, we wanted to do away with the big swings by playing small ball, making their swings shorter,” Butler said. “After we started laying down a few bunts and moving guys around, we started seeing the ball better.”
Epperheimer said the Twins also had a change of attitude and were intent on scoring some runs early in the game.
“We just had to get the energy going early instead of waiting until the seventh inning,” Epperheimer said.
Twins 14, 49ers 3
Kenai 200 414 3 14 12 3
Fairbanks 000 003 0 3 5 1
J. Simpson, J. Gilbert (6) and E. Waters; Aure, J. Johnson (1), Crutcher (1), Gonzales (5), Darrow (7) and Gonzales, B. Lauritzen (5). W J. Simpson. L J. Johnson. 2B Twins, L. Gilbert, J. Waters, J. Simpson. 3B L. Oliver.
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