The good news for the American Legion Twins baseball team is that, as the squad makes its final preparations for this weekend's district tournament in Fairbanks, it has the spunk to post six runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to send what was shaping up to be a lopsided defeat into extra innings.
The bad news?
"To get spanked so bad in the follow-up inning is terrible," summed up Twins manager Lance Coz after his team gave up eight runs in the top of the 10th inning to lose 16-8 to the visiting Service Cougars at Coral Seymour Memorial Field in Kenai.
Things were tighter in game two, a seven-inning affair, though Service held off the Twins for a 5-3 win.
The Twins were able to keep things close through most of the first game, entering the fifth inning with the score tied at two.
Service scored an unearned run in the fifth and another in the seventh, though, to take a 4-2 lead.
Twins starter Kenneth Butler tired in the eighth, surrendering two more runs, and Service struck for two more in the top of the ninth off reliever Robby Rounsaville.
Erich Simpson sparked the Twins rally in the bottom of the ninth when he was hit by a pitch with one out.
The Twins followed with consecutive singles by Jacob Madrid, Brett Toering and Butler, and after a strikeout, continued the barrage with singles from Luke Mese and Kyle Foster.
Mese's single chased Service starter KC Haas, who had been working on a one-hitter going into the ninth, in favor of reliever Andy Ward.
Nick Weigle, the ninth batter of the inning, delivered the game-tying hit, getting his bat on a full-count pitch and dropping a bloop single into shallow center field. While the ball didn't travel far, it had enough hang time to allow Foster, who was running with the pitch, to score all the way from first while Mese scampered home from third.
Rounsaville added one more hit in the inning, but the Twins couldn't score the go-ahead run. Service put the game away in the top of the 10th, notching eight runs on six hits and taking advantage of five walks issued by Twins pitchers.
Coz said there were two things on which he'd like to see his squad improve before the district tournament.
"I was glad to see them come back, but I was disappointed to see a number of batters chase high fastballs," Coz said. "Our outfielders are young, with maturing arms, and I'd prefer to see them hit the cutoff man and give us a few more options."
Coz said that by hitting the cutoff man instead of trying to make a throw to the plate, the defense would hold the batter to just a single, rather than letting him take second. If there was the potential for a play at the plate, the cutoff man would be in a better position to make a good throw.
"We have to learn that quickly, because we'll need to do it in the district tournament," Coz said.
Haas, Ward (9) and Varela; Butler, Rounsaville (9), Simpson (10), Foster (10) and Kennedy, Butler (9). W Ward. L Rounsaville. 2B Twins, Kennedy; Cougars, Redick. 3B Cougars, Lambert.
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