The American Legion Twins won their first two games at the American Legion state baseball tournament Friday and Saturday at Mulcahy Stadium in Anchorage.
The Twins won both contests by invoking the mercy rule. Friday, the Twins toppled Eagle River 14-4 in five innings in a game that was scheduled for nine innings. Saturday, the Twins rolled past South 8-1 in 6 1-2 innings in a game scheduled for nine innings.
The Twins had 16 hits against Eagle River and 15 hits against South.
The Twins continue play at the state tournament on Monday at 10 a.m. against Dimond, the second seed in the tournament.
Twins manager John Butler said the first two games set his team up perfectly for the rest of the tournament.
By winning both games, the Twins earned today off. By not going the distance in either game, the Twins didn't have to use pitchers like AJ Hull or Josiah Covey. DJ Stilchen pitched just three innings on Friday against Eagle River.
"It gives us AJ fresh and Josiah fresh, and DJ only had to pitch three innings," Butler said. "The mercy rule is an advantage as far as having pitchers ready to come back."
When the Twins defeated South 5-3 on Monday at Mulcahy in the last regular season game, Butler said it was the first time every member of the team came to the park showing their game faces.
That continued in the tournament.
"Pitching, hitting, defense -- it's all been there," Butler said. "We've been warming up with our game faces on. So far, we've handled it pretty well."
Against Eagle River, Stilchen gave up four runs -- three earned -- and three hits in his three innings of work. He also walked five. Butler said this is Stilchen's first state tournament and nerves played a part in the wildness.
Tay Harling entered in the fourth and gave up no runs and a hit in two innings. The Twins went into the bottom of the fifth with a 7-4 lead and scored seven times to end the game.
On offense for the Twins, Braden Price was 3-for-4 with four runs and two RBIs, Jake Darrow was 2-for-4 with two runs and three RBIs, Mitchell Thompson was 3-for-3 with two runs and three RBIs, Steven Steger was 2-for-3 with two runs, and Sam Bowler was 3-for-3 with two RBIs.
The Twins made just one error in the game.
After defeating South on Monday, Bowler came back to stifle South's bats on Saturday. He pitched seven innings and gave up one run on five hits.
Bowler said the coaches debated whether to use Bowler against South again.
"Sam is throwing the ball so well," Butler said. "South is a good-hitting team, and even though South has seen him, we decided to throw our best against their best and see what happened."
Bowler got a big boost from the Twins defense, which committed just one error, and the Twins offense.
Price was 3-for-4 with three runs, Thompson was 2-for-3 with two RBIs, Covey was 3-for-4 with two runs, Steger was 2-for-3, and Hull was 2-for-4 with three RBIs.
"We told them after the game, how they played today was what we saw in them back in June," Butler said. "They can play well when they focus on every pitch and go all out."
The Twins and Dimond are two of four undefeated teams left in the tournament. Wasilla and Fairbanks are the other two and will play Monday at 1 p.m.
Today, Eagle River plays West at 11 a.m., Bartlett plays Chugiak at 2:15 p.m. and East plays South at 5:30 p.m. in loser-out games. Service lost to Dimond on Saturday and faces the East-South winner on Tuesday at 1 p.m.
Twins 14, Wolves 4
Eagle River 013 00 -- 4 4 4
Twins 510 17 -- 14 16 1
A. Ortiz, Bennice (5) and Reeves; Stilchen, Harling (4) and Marcuson. W -- Stilchen. L -- Ortiz. 2B -- Twins: Darrow, Thompson. LOB -- Wolves 8, Twins 6.
Twins 8, Wolverines 1
South 000 010 0 -- 1 5 1
Twins 102 500 X -- 8 15 1
Crapps, Frazier (4), Baker (5) and Holmes, Berglund; Bowler and Marcuson. W -- Bowler. L -- Crapps. 2B -- Wolverines: Baker, Frazier; Twins: Steger, Hull. 3B -- Wolverines: Karnos; Twins: Price 2.
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