Every baseball player grows up dreaming of a clutch at-bat in the bottom of the ninth inning to win a big game. Well, that dream came true for American Legion Post 20 Twin Aaron Sparks in Wednesday night's 15-14 win over Wasilla at the Alaska State American Legion Baseball Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium in Anchorage.
The Twins now advance to the semifinal round today at 4 p.m. against either Dimond of Anchorage or Chugiak, whichever won last night's late tournament game.
The win was even more dramatic for the Twins given they trailed 14-6 at one point. Head coach Lance Coz said the Twins took an early 3-0 lead, but then went down 4-3, and then 14-6, by the top of the sixth inning.
The stunning comeback was sparked by winning relief pitcher Willie Castillo, who shut out Wasilla from the middle of the sixth on. In the meantime, Twins bats came alive with two runs in the bottom of the sixth, two more in the seventh, four in the eighth and the winner in the ninth.
"We proceeded to hold our ground and gradually dig away," Coz said.
The game-winner came after Erik Newby walked and Shaun Williams moved him up with a base hit bunt down the third base line.
Leo Sanchez advanced his teammates with a sacrifice bunt to set up Sparks, who slapped a grounder to short. With the field covered in mud after a whole game in the rain, the shortstop bobbled the ball, allowing Newby to score the winner.
As for Sparks, Coz said he was thrilled with his game-winner.
"He was feeling pretty excited," Coz said. "He probably would have preferred the hit go over the infielder."
If the Twins advance, they will travel to the American Legion Regional Tournament in Yakima, Wash.
"We went there in '95," Coz said. "We'd like to go back."
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