All season, the Kenai American Legion Post 20 Twins have had to figure out how to deal with setbacks.
Tuesday's District II Tournament championship was no exception as the Twins put together just enough pitching, hitting and defense to beat the Fairbanks Post 11 and 57 Tri-Cities 49ers 8-4 at Coral Seymour Park in Kenai.
"It's the championship game. You've got to put everything on the line," said Post 20's Kenneth Butler.
With the win, Post 20 will enter this weekend's state tournament with the district's No. 1 seed. Fairbanks will go as the No. 2 team, Homer is No. 3 and Wasilla No. 4.
The Twins literally put everything they had on the field Tuesday. J.D. Pault returned to the lineup, giving Post 20 10 eligible players, and the Twins were forced to use everyone after Eric Newby was hit by a pitch on his hand in the second inning and had to be replaced in the sixth inning.
The Twins were able to jump on the 49ers early, getting a two-run homer from David Newby in the first inning, then plating three runs on three hits in the second inning.
Ely Evanson and Zack Hicks led off the second inning with back-to-back singles. After a fly-ball out, Eric Newby was hit by a pitch and Kyle Foster was safe at first when Newby's slide into second broke up both ends of a double play. Two runs scored on the play, one on the ground ball and the other when the Fairbanks second baseman's throw sailed past first.
David Newby followed with a run-scoring double, his third RBI of the game.
The Twins had to start scrambling in the bottom half of the inning, though. Eric Newby, with his glove hand injured, moved from his customary shortstop position to second, where David Newby, the Twins' regular center fielder, was filling in for Nick Weigle, who was unavailable after being hit in the face on a pickoff throw to second Sunday.
Eric Newby stuck it out as long as he could, laying down a sacrifice bunt in the fourth inning, but had to call for the Twins' only sub, Pault, heading into the sixth inning.
With one of its big guns out of the lineup, Post 20 found production in other places.
Butler hit a solo home run in the fifth inning, and Derek Martin hit a two-run double to cap the Twins' scoring in the sixth inning.
Butler said it was his first ever home run in Legion play.
"Coach (Lance Coz) has been telling me, keep my weight back, pivot on my back foot. I guess I finally did," Butler said. "I've hit the fence in left field a few times. I guess the Good Lord was on my side today."
Evanson got the start on the mound for the Oilers, going 6 2-3 innings fir the win. Corey Grimm finished up after notching his first base hit of the season.
"I don't think there was any holding back," Grimm said. "I used every ounce of energy I had left."
Fairbanks scored a run in the first inning and a run in the sixth, then kept things interesting with two runs in the seventh against a noticeably tired Twins squad. Under the tournament's double-elimination format, had the Twins lost, a second game would have followed the determine the tournament champion.
"That's always a big deal. It's been nice just having to play one game throughout the tournament," Evanson said. "I don't think we could have hung in there for a second game with how shorthanded we are."
"It was really important for the whole team" to win and play just one game, added Grimm, "and I really thought it was important -- I have to go to work at 5 p.m. I don't know what I would've done."
If the rest of the season has been any indication, the Twins would have come up with something.
TWINS 8, TRI-CITIES 49ERS 4
Kenai Post 20 230 012 000 -- 8 9 5
Fairbanks Post 11 and 57 100 001 200 -- 4 5 5
Evanson, Grimm (7) and Butler, Evanson (7). Kokrine, Lee (5) and Milliken. W -- Evanson. L-- Kokrine. 2B -- Twins, D. Newby, Butler, Martin. HR -- Twins, D. Newby, Butler.
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