Photo by M. Scott Moon American Legion Twins pitcher Justice Elson works the first inning of the second game Wednesday in a light rain at Coral Seymour Memorial Park. Elson tossed a complete game in leading the Twins to a 10-4 victory after dropping the first game, 10-6.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Working primarily as a closer this season, American Legion Twins hurler Justice Elson is comfortable pitching out of tight situations.
And he actually enjoys it.
"I like more of a closer because I like pressure situations," he said. "I'm used to it a lot."
It's a good thing, too, because he utilized that calm closer's demeanor as a starter on Wednesday.
After scattering three runs on three hits and seven walks through the first three innings of the second game of a doubleheader on a rainy afternoon at Coral Seymour Memorial Park, Elson remained composed, allowing only one more run in going the distance as the Twins defeated the Wasilla Alaska Roadwarriors, 10-4, in seven innings.
The victory was especially sweet since the Twins committed nine errors in falling 10-6 to the Roadwarriors in the opener.
"His mechanics weren't real good the first couple of innings. But that's the reason we wanted him out there, to give him more mound time and let him work on them a little bit," Twins coach John Butler said. "Once he settled down and got where he was picking up his target, getting the ball out of the glove, he did well."
While Elson will probably work out of the bullpen for the remainder of the season, he may have just earned himself a spot in next year's starting rotation.
Something he welcomes.
"I would love to be both of them. Both of them work fine for me," he said being a starter and a closer. "Wherever the coach puts me, I'm fine."
Elson opened the game by walking three of the first four batters before surrendering an RBI single to Mike Dotson (3-for-4) for a 1-0 Wasilla advantage.
Following a scoreless second that included a pair of walks and two of Elson's seven strike outs, he gave up two more runs in the third on two walks, a wild pitch and back-to-back singles by Dotson and Corey Cowgill before striking out Chris Comerate to end the threat.
Still, though, he wasn't worried.
"I was calm the whole time," he said. "I'm really calm with my pitching."
It certainly helped that the Twins (18-14 overall, 9-7 in the league) took a 4-3 lead in their half of the third when Josh Lee walked, Tanner Pollack reached base on an error and Josh Gilbert (3-for-3, four RBIs) scored Lee with a liner to left.
That brought Steven Mabeus to the plate, who, in his first at-bat, singled to left field after croaking his first homer since he was 12-years old in Game 1.
"It was like I hit it right away and I knew it was gone right away," Mabeus said of his tater.
He walked on four pitches getting nothing to swing at and following another run on a sacrifice fly and the first two outs of the inning, Mabeus got a tremendous jump towards second, prompting Roadwarriors' pitcher Kody Ziter into a balk and allowing Gilbert to freely trot home with the tying run.
He wasn't done there, though.Mabeus proceeded to steal third, but got caught in a rundown before Ziter slipped on the wet grass, his throw sailing over the third baseman for the Twins fourth run of the game.
"Steven's aggressive on the bases, which is what we like. Sometimes he gets too aggressive, which is what happened there at second," Butler said. "We got lucky. We got a break on that. And I never complain when he's aggressive. That's what I want him to do."
Elson later allowed the tying run in the fifth on a double by Cowgill and a base hit by Matt Packa before Mabeus took matters into his own hands again.
Walking on four pitches to open the bottom of the fifth, he stole second and tagged up to third on a fly out by Waters.
He then scored the eventual game-winner, albeit carefully, when Jake Lamphier hit into a fielder's choice and beat out the shortstop's throw to first.
"When you walk, you feel like you do your job ... I mean, yeah, it's great to get somebody on base," Mabeus explained. "At the three-hole, my job's to drive in runs and when I get four-pitch walks, I want to get myself into position to where somebody else can drive me in.
"And from first it's harder to drive in than from second or third, so I try to make it work."
The Twins put five more runs on the board in the inning on a single by Daniel Hepner, three walks and a three-run double by Gilbert, easing any tension Elson may have been feeling.
With a man on first and two outs in the sixth, Elson gave up consecutive singles to Wesley Smith and Dotson before needing only one pitch to retire Cowgill on a chopper to third baseman Kris Netschert.
He proceeded to finish the game on a six-pitch seventh inning, inducing a pair of ground outs and a pop out as the Twins closed out their home season on a positive note.
"I just needed to settle down and get my momentum going and just start throwing hard," Elson said.
"(Wednesday) was fine. I'm glad that we got all the run support that we needed."
Mabeus also pitched well in the opener, allowing 10 runs only two earned on eight hits and four walks over seven strong innings before giving way to Netschert, who pitched the final two frames.
Despite dropping the league contest, Butler was still pleased to win the second game.
"It was nice and especially since the guys know that we didn't play well at all," he said. "The difference between the two games was we made nine errors in the first game and came back in the second game with two. It's a big difference.
"They need to play solid to back up our pitching because Steven pitched a heck of a ball game."
ROADWARRIORS 10, TWINS 6, Game 1
Wasilla 302 400 100 10 11 0
Post 20 012 210 000 6 11 9
Packa, Beck (5) and Smith; Mabeus, Netschert (8) and Waters. W Packa. L Mabeus. 2B Wasilla: Dotson; Post 20: Gilbert. HR Mabeus. LOB Wasilla 10, Post 20 6.
TWINS 10, ROADWARRIORS 4, Game 2
Wasilla 102 010 0 4 9 3
Post 20 004 060 x 10 10 2
Ziter, Cowgill (4), Smith (6) and Fitch; Elson and Waters. W Elson. L Cowgill. 2B Wasilla: Cowgill; Post 20: Gilbert. LOB Wasilla 11, Post 20 6.
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