After winning their first game on Friday, the American Legions Twins lost 10-5 to defending champion Chugiak on Saturday in the Alaska American Legion state baseball tournament at Hermon Brothers Field in Palmer.
"They're the defending champions and whoever wins it this year is going to have to beat them," Twins coach John Butler said. "I really thought that we had a chance today to do it.
"We hung tough and had a couple errors that, like we have all year, that came back to bite us," he added. "We get rid of those errors, and we're actually ahead."
The Twins on Friday overcame an early one-run deficit before handling ninth-seeded West, 11-2, in seven innings at Mulcahy Stadium.
Despite the 1-1 record, the Twins are still alive in the double-elimination tournament and will play Dimond today at noon at Oberg Field in Eagle River. In fact, it's the exact scenario they faced last year after winning their opener and dropping the second game before ripping off four straight wins en route to the championship. Their surprising ride came to an end in one game against the Mustangs, though.
Butler is hoping to see them again in this tournament.
"That's what we're hoping for," he said. "That we can win two more and maybe we'll see them."
Josh Gilbert took the loss, surrendering nine runs -- only four earned as the Twins committed four errors -- on seven hits and eight walks with two strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings.
"He wasn't quite as sharp as what he normally is," Butler said. "Even though he really didn't have good command of all of his pitches early in the game, he still battled hard, so I was real pleased with him. He just kept on battling."
The Twins snatched a 1-0 lead in the first when Jake Darrow walked, took second on a wild pitch, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a single by Gilbert.
Chugiak stormed back with three runs in the second before the Twins tied it in the third.
After the Mustangs extended their lead to 5-3 in the fourth, the Twins answered again, knotting it up in the top of the sixth.
But Chugiak, which had 10 hits to the Twins five, took control with a four-run bottom half of the sixth and added another in the seventh.
The Twins had a chance cut into the lead in the top of the eighth, when they loaded the bases with no outs.
But an interference call on Tyler Marcuson as he slid into second to prevent the double play led to a scoreless inning for the Twins.
"Kind of a phantom call," Butler said. "It just took us out of the game.
"You get the bases loaded, you have to score," he added. "That double play just took all of our options away from us."
Marcuson added 2 2/3 innings of relief for the Twins, giving up one earned run on three hits and a walk with two strikeouts.
"He actually threw the ball real well considering how much pressure was on him," Butler said.
Leading the way on Friday was starter Larsen Kohler, who surrendered a leadoff double and two runs -- only one earned -- in the first, but virtually nothing after that.
He struck out seven and walked none over five dominant innings, allowing just the two first-inning hits while throwing only 60 pitches.
"It was the best game he's thrown this year," Butler said. "His fastball had movement on it ... and his breaking ball and his offspeed was working.
"Everything was just around the zone today," he added. "He was pretty dominating out there." Justice Elson added two scoreless innings of relief, allowing just one hit with two strikeouts and no walks.
"It's always nice to win the first one," Butler said. "It assures us that we're here for at least one more day."
Kohler gave up the two runs on the leadoff double -- Butler said it was the lone pitch he left up in the zone all day -- a single, a stolen base and an error as the Twins fell behind 2-1 after the first.
But they promptly responded with four runs in the second.
With one out and Kohler on first after getting hit by an Andrew Kiezich offering, Vinnie Madrid walked and Elson beat out a bunt for a base hit in loading the bases. Kiezich -- who took the loss after surrendering seven runs (two earned) on two hits and six walks over three innings -- then walked Braden Price in forcing home a run and Darrow followed with a sacrifice fly, an error allowing two more runners to score in staking the Twins to a 5-2 lead.
Kohler ensured it would stand up, too.
He retired the side in the second, third and fourth innings, sitting down 10 straight batters before the leadoff man reached on an error to start the fifth.
"I was a little bit worried there at the very beginning," Butler said. "Larsen, he had his game face on and he came out and threw the best he has thrown.
"He just went out and just dominated that (second) inning."
Meanwhile, the Twins tacked on three more runs in the fourth on four walks, a sac fly by Gilbert and a balk and wild pitch by reliever Kyle Cleary.
Straying from the norm so far this summer, the Twins committed just one error, compared to seven by West.
"We actually got somebody on base and the base runners started putting pressure on them and they made some throwing errors when we started stealing bases," Butler said. "We got pretty aggressive on the bases today."
Price went 2-for-2 with a pair of RBIs for the Twins, while Kohler and Darrow each knocked in two runs, Gilbert added two, one on a double in the sixth, and Elson had one RBI and scored twice.
After limiting his pitches on Friday, Kohler is expected to throw again on Monday or Tuesday, Butler said.
"I told them after the game they played well," he said. "We still made an error and I don't think we're quite where we can be."
Twins 11, West 2
Twins 140 311 1 --11 7 1
West 200 000 0 --2 3 7
Kohler, Elson (6) and Myles; Kiezich, Cleary (4), Johnson (7) and Grisham. W -- Kohler. L -- Kiezich. 2B -- Gilbert, Hamill. LOB -- Twins 8, West 3.
Chugiak 10, Twins 5
Twins 102 002 000 --5 5 4
Chugiak 030 204 10x --10 10 0
Gilbert, Marcuson (6) and Myles; McCollum, Haynes (7) and Balen. W -- McCollum. L -- Gilbert. 2B -- Thompson, Henie, McCollum. 3B -- Kohler. LOB -- Twins 6, Chugiak 13.
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