Season preview: Legion Twins open state title defense Saturday

The air hung thick in the twilight at Mulcahy Stadium last July as Legion AA Twins reliever Gavin Petterson stepped onto the mound just three outs away from a wild state championship victory.

Petterson made his ninth-inning appearance on the mound following the go-ahead redemption run scored by the Twins’ Calvin Hills, who had just wasted a four-run lead in the top of the eighth in a relief appearance on the mound.

In the closeout half of the ninth, Petterson walked Service’s leadoff batter, but retired the final three with swift pitching to secure the state crown.

Post 20 head coach Robb Quelland said the tough combination of stout pitching and clutch hitting from the 2016 Twins squad was what carried them to the championship.

“From the top of the lineup to the bottom, all those players did their role,” Quelland said in a recent interview. “They complemented each other from the first batter to the last. There was no one on the bench we were worried about playing.”

The hold-your-breath finish capped a dominant 32-win season for the Post 20 Twins, who return in 2017 in hopes of a fifth state championship in program history, adding to ones won in 1991, 1995, 2012 and last summer. The Twins open their title defense with a noon doubleheader Saturday against Fairbanks Post 30 in Anchorage.

The going will be tough, however, as the Twins face not only a target on their backs as the defending state champions, but also as they search for a reliable pitching rotation.

Gone from the 2016 squad are three aces that had eligibility this summer; Soldotna’s Joey Becher, a standout ace that tossed three no-hitters for last year’s high school and legion teams, but will be playing for the Peninsula Oilers of the Alaska Baseball League this summer, Soldotna’s Matthew Daugherty, a recent graduate that will be playing summer collegiate ball for the Klamath Falls Gems in Oregon, and Petterson of Kenai Central, who will also be playing summer ball outside the state.

Overall, Post 20 lost nine players from last season. Quelland said that will make things really tough with the newly instituted pitch count rules.

“They’re even more stringent than high school rules,” he said. “It really limits you.

“Those are two really strong, capable pitchers.”

Having played in the previous two state championship finals, the Twins have become accustomed to deep state tournament runs, but they will have to dig deep to make it three years in a row.

“We’re quite a bit younger than last year,” Quelland said.

Post 20 returns just four players from last year, but all four have the credentials to get another state title run going. Included in the mix is catcher Kenny Griffin, a 2016 SoHi grad who Quelland said could be seeing more time in the infield and outfield this year, 2016 SoHi grad and relief pitcher Calvin Hills, 2017 Kenai Central grad and power hitter Paul Steffensen, and 2017 SoHi grad and catcher Cody Quelland.

Griffin spent the winter playing hockey outside the state, while Hills worked on the peninsula. Quelland said Hills will be missing the end of the legion season after signing up to join the Army.

The current rotation for the Twins includes no left-handers, but Quelland said he has faith in his lineup, which includes Adam Brinster from Homer, Logan Smith from SoHi, Cody Quelland, Steffensen, Griffin and Hills. Mose Hayes and Seth Adkins from Homer will also provide help.

Quelland said the team camaraderie that helped the Twins win it all last summer seems to be back this year.

“Most of these guys play with each other for years on end, or I have coached them, so we all know each other before the season starts,” Quelland said. “Last year, every game was fun, but you saw the young men grow, and the way they grew and behaved and their attitude was great.”

Joining Quelland on the coaching staff is former SoHi player Dallas Pierren as pitching coach, Gary Oliver as bench coach and manager Lance Coz.

More in Sports

tease
Kards win Silver Bracket at Dimond-Service volleyball

Kenai Central won the Silver Bracket on Saturday at the Dimond-Service Volleyball… Continue reading

Soldotna's Hunter Richardson and Homer's Nestor Kalugin tangle at 189A at the Luke Spruill Memorial Tournament on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. Richardson won the match 11-1 on the way to first place, while Kalugin was third. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai’s Gaethle wins Spruill award

Kenai Central junior Andrew Gaethle won the Luke Spruill Outstanding Wrestler award,… Continue reading

Kenai River Brown Bears forward Caden Triggs (far left) celebrates his first-period goal with Tyler Pfister and Brendan Hill on Friday, Oct. 21, 2021, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Friday: Brown Bears defeat Steel

For the second time all season, the Kenai River Brown Bears scored… Continue reading

Brown Bears forward Cole Dubicki and Chippewa (Wisconsin) Steel forward Ethan Benz tangle for the puck Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Brown Bears drop home opener to Steel

The Kenai River Brown Bears lost their home opener 6-2 to the… Continue reading

tease
Seward volleyball comes back to top Nikiski

The host Seward volleyball team pulled off a big comeback for a… Continue reading

A moose darts into the forest on Beaver Loop Road in Kenai, Alaska, during the Kenai River Marathon on Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Refuge Notebook: Mating systems of moose and caribou

Driving home the other day, my friend and I came across a… Continue reading

Kenai Lake sparkles under the sun on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021 near Cooper Landing, Alaska. (Ashlyn O'Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Out of the Office: To everything, there is a season

We don’t really have “seasons” where I’m from. It stays an amicable… Continue reading

tease
Costume Caper 5K draws 44 in Nikiski

The Nikiski Community Recreation Center held a 5K Costume Caper on Saturday,… Continue reading

tease
Brown Bears look to home cooking to spark season

The Kenai River Brown Bears will turn to home ice advantage to… Continue reading

Most Read