Barely eight minutes after first pitch, the Legion Twins and Palmer Moose were running for cover from a passing shower that soaked Coral Seymour Memorial Park. The rain left about as quickly as it had arrived.
The only thing quicker? Mose Hayes on the mound.
Hayes tossed a complete game for the Twins, giving up a single run over seven innings to help Post 20 defeat Palmer 4-1. The Twins capped the day with a 6-5 walk-off victory in the non league game, thanks to a pinch-hit, game-winning single by David Michael.
The doubleheader sweep helped the Twins to their sixth win in eight games and an 11-3 league record, 18-9-1 overall.
More importantly, the team clinched a spot at the state tournament, although their seeding is still to be decided. The Twins currently sit second in the American Division standings, only behind South Post 4 (12-4 league), with a Friday game against Service, two Saturday games against Ketchikan and a Sunday game against South still to be played.
The good times have left the team laser-focused for the next five days, according to Twins head coach Robb Quelland.
“It’s the old cliche. We’re looking at Service now,” he said. “We’ll let the standings go, we’ve got some big games coming up this week.”
Not to be outdone, Hayes was matched by a complete game performance by Palmer starter Ben Alley, as the two staged a rare duel to keep the bullpens out of the game. Alley gave up four runs on five hits and six walks, whiffing three over six innings.
Quelland said the Twins took a cautious approach in using Hayes in the first month of the Legion season, resting him to preserve his arm for a stretch run into the state tournament, which will be played July 26 through 30 in Anchorage.
“We just paced him, and I believe our plan worked well, with how strong he is now,” Quelland said. “It’s paying dividends towards the end of the season by not running him so many innings early.”
Hayes got through the entire game in an efficient 85 pitches, using a combo of his fastball and curve to finish the game in under two hours of playing time.
“It’s just not having to worry about getting a lot of strikeouts,” Hayes said. “Letting the defense do the work.”
Hayes said he struggled with his changeup early on, but after giving up a run in the third inning, a slew of groundouts and fly balls helped him cruise through the last four frames.
Hayes said working with catcher Seth Adkins, a Homer High School teammate of his, also helps to give him a comfortable feeling on the mound.
“We have a good dynamic,” Hayes said. “He steals me a lot of strikes, for sure.”
Ominous clouds approached the park as game time approached at 1 p.m., and with just two outs in the bottom of the first, the rain strengthened and the officials stopped the game.
It was more than 20 minutes before the teams took the field again and proceeded to dry up the infield. The two pitchers appeared hardly fazed.
“Everyone was still fresh,” Quelland said. “(Hayes) got a light bullpen session to go back out, and (Palmer) were ready too.”
The Twins got an early boost on offense, scoring all four runs in the first inning. With raindrops beginning to fall, the Twins loaded the bases with one out and Harrison Metz answered the bell with a two-run single to stake out a lead.
Tanner Ussing followed next with a two-run single of his own, and it was immediately after that that the game was delayed.
The Twins loaded the bases in the bottom of the second as well, but couldn’t come through as Adkins popped up in foul territory and Metz grounded out.