The American Legion Twins baseball team opened the District 2 tournament with a win Saturday, defeating the Alaska Road Warriors of Wasilla 9-0 Saturday at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai.
With the win, the Twins stay in the winner's bracket of the three-team tournament and will play at 4 p.m. today against the winner of the Fairbanks-Wasilla game to be played at noon.
"Our defense played very well today. We were able to minimize our mistakes, and when we made a mistake, we were able to persevere and not let the other team score," said Twins coach John Kennedy.
Alex Johansen went seven innings for the win the game ended early with the Twins leading by more than seven runs in the seventh inning and scattered three hits, striking out six and walking one.
Johansen had some solid defense behind him. The Twins committed one error in the game when a throw to first sailed over the head of Jacob Madrid in the top of the sixth inning. Madrid hustled after the ball, though, and with a friendly rebound off the fence, he was able to scoop it up in time to throw out a runner at home plate.
"It's maturity, being able to let it go, put it behind you and make the next play," Twins third baseman Erich Simpson said of the team's ability to maintain its composure.
The Twins offense took a few innings to get going. The Twins plated the first run of the game in the second without recording a hit as Kevin Epperheimer drew a walk, stole second and advanced to third when the throw from the catcher ended up in center field. Epperheimer tagged up and scored on a fly ball to shallow right field, played by the Wasilla second baseman.
Simpson jump-started the Twins bats in the bottom of the fifth inning. With one run in and runners at first and third, Simpson connected for a home run, clearing the Seymour Park fence just inside the left-field foul pole.
"I was just trying to hit something deep so I could sacrifice a run in," Simpson said.
The Twins added four more runs in the sixth inning. Justin Simpson hit an RBI triple and scored on a pitch, and two more runners crossed the plate on a Wasilla error.
Wasilla threatened to score in the top of the seventh, loading the bases, but Johansen got a strikeout to end the game.
"We came in pretty confident we could win, but going out and doing it by that much was good. It gives us a little more confidence," Erich Simpson said.
As the top-seeded team in the tournament, the Twins also have the advantage of playing just one game per day. Wasilla played a game earlier Saturday, beating Fairbanks 8-4.
The Twins also will play the winner of the early game tomorrow.
"That's what we get for getting the No. 1 seed in the district," Simpson said. "They're at a little bit of a disadvantage, but that's what happens."
Carl Brent powered Wasilla to its win over Fairbanks, putting the Road Warriors in the lead with his three-run home run in the third inning. Tyler Tillery picked up the win.
ROAD WARRIORS 8, 49ERS 4
Fairbanks 100 021 000 4 10 6
Wasilla 014 000 03x 8 8 1
Dufseth, Gonzalez (8) and Pokrivnak; Tillery, Smith (7), Ressler (9) and Brent. W Tillery. L Dufseth. 2B 49ers, Livengood; Warriors, Breck. HR Warriors, Brent.
TWINS 9, ROAD WARRIORS 0
Wasilla 000 000 0 0 3 3
Kenai 010 044 x 9 5 1
Pauling, Bahn (5) and Brent; Johansen and J. Simpson. 3B J. Simpson. HR E. Simpson.
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