The church of baseball was open Sunday afternoon at Coral Seymour Memorial Park one last time for regular season play. The lesson for the day: redemption.
And the American Legion Post 20 Twins learned this lesson well after giving up a seven-run lead to the Dimond Lynx in game 1 of a doubleheader, losing 10-7. They returned in the second game to trounce Dimond 15-2 in five innings on the 10-run rule.
Their overall record is 23-21.
Twins manager Lance Coz shouldered the blame for the Twins' opening transgressions.
"Ultimately, when you go 7-0 to lead, and you blow it, the primary responsibility belongs to your coach," Coz said. "It was very similar to one we turned around in Anchorage, earlier this season."
What started out as whimsy in game 1 ended in disaster late in the game. Consistent scoring in five of the first six innings and efficient defense gave the Twins a commanding 7-0 lead.
Derek Martin hit in Eric Newby in the first with a smash to deep right field. In the second, Cory Janson scored Kenneth Butler on a triple screamer to the left field wall before being batted in on an Eric Newby single.
With a man on first at the top of the third, the Lynx's Taylor Reed hit into a 6-4-3 double-play, and Evanson closed the inning by striking out the fourth batter in the rotation, Brandon Reed.
Butler scored again in the third on a Kyle Foster sacrifice fly to center field.
In the fourth, with Martin and Bud Baun in scoring position, Nick Weigle hit what should have been a groundout to short. Dimond first baseman Ty Clapper missed the throw and both Martin and Baun crossed home plate to score.
David Newby scored an RBI in the sixth with a sacrifice to right field that earned his brother Eric a run.
But then the Post 20 bats went cold. And in the top of the seventh inning, the Lynx heated up, taking advantage of a weary Evanson, who had started from the mound for the Twins.
"I should've asked to be taken out earlier," Evanson said. "I'm not sure what happened. I walked the first batter, and it just fell apart from there."
And fall apart things did for the Post 20 players. After throwing four balls past the first batter for a walk to remember, Evanson gave up a hit and another walk to load the bases.
Then Dimond catcher Jesse Bell sent a hummer into the gap in right field that scored runners from third and second base. And hits changed to a succession of bunts that stymied the defense and earned both the catcher and pitcher an error each. Twice the duo missed connections at the plate that may have saved runs.
"They (Dimond) did a good job of putting the ball down," Coz said.
Coz said he kept his starter in long enough to warm up some relief, but also mentioned that he was a little hesitant to put Corey Grimm on the mound under those circumstances.
"He's a big kid," he said of Grimm's limited mobility. "They would definitely key on him."
The Lynx scored six more runs in the inning and added two in the ninth for good measure. Zack Hicks, replacing Evanson in the lineup in the bottom of the eighth, hit a fly-ball to deep right field with runners at second and third and two outs that could have regained the lead for the Twins, but Dimond outfielder Bud Sullivan made a diving catch at the warning track to dash Post 20's hopes and end the inning. Evanson took the loss.
In the break between games, Coz rallied the team around the theme of redeeming the first game's loss.
"You're not just going to turn over and die," he told his ball club. "You're going to have to beat them."
His words hit home as the Twins opened the second game with bats aflame. After allowing a Lynx run in the top of the first, the home team returned a flurry of runs with Butler and Nick Weigle batting in Foster and Eric Newby, respectively.
Then Evanson hit a double that scored Weigle, Butler and David Newby.
The Lynx earned a final run in the top of the second inning before the Twins were off to the races. David Newby smashed a three-run yard-ball in the third scoring Eric Newby and Baun.
"The Newby boys," Coz said of David and Eric's collective clutch performances on the season. "That's who you want at bat."
Janson and Hicks hit consecutive grounders to score Weigle and Evanson.
Post 20 put five more runs on the board in the third inning from a David Newby two-run sacrifice fly to left field, a Weigle triple that scored two runs. Weigle scampered home on a passed ball.
"Probably the biggest thing, we want to be ready for Wednesday," Coz said of the Twins' two final regular-season games against Fairbanks. "You want to be on an upswing when you hit tournament time."
The American Legion District II Tournament begins Saturday afternoon at Coral Seymour Park.
LYNX 10, TWINS 7, Game 1
Dimond 000 000 802 -- 10 10 1
Post 20 120 121 000 -- 7 9 3
McCarty, Birmingham (6) and Bell; Evanson, Grimm (7), Martin. W -- Bell. L -- Evanson. 3B -- Post 20: Janson. 2B -- Post 20: Butler (3); Dimond: Joseph, Clapper. LOB -- Dimond 5, Post 20 10.
TWINS 15, LYNX 2, Game 2, 5 innings
Dimond 110 00 -- 2 3 3
Post 20 555 0x -- 15 10 3
Havellana, Birmingham (3.37) and McCarty; Grimm and Evanson. W -- Grimm. L -- Havellana. HR -- Post 20: D. Newby. 3B -- Post 20: Weigle. 2B -- Dimond: Joseph; Post 20: Evanson. LOB -- Dimond 5, Post 20 4.
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