Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Paul Steffensen (11) gets a high-five from Post 20 Twins teammate Josh Darrow Saturday against South Post 4 at the Kenai Little League fields.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Paul Steffensen (11) gets a high-five from Post 20 Twins teammate Josh Darrow Saturday against South Post 4 at the Kenai Little League fields.

South hands Twins 1st league loss of season

With the kind of run that the American Legions Twins were rolling on this summer, the good times could only last so long.

On a cloudy Saturday afternoon, the Twins finally encountered their first hiccup of the season, losing their first league contest 7-2 to South Post 4 at the Kenai Little League fields.

The loss put an end to Post 20’s perfect streak by making the league record 13-1, but a 14-9 victory over South in the second, nonleague, game on Saturday left their overall record at 19-2.

“I think the target got a little smaller today,” said starting Twins pitcher Joey Becher with a note of optimism.

In a battle between the top two teams in the American Division standings, the big obstacle the Twins faced was bringing home runners in scoring position. Post 20 stranded 14 runners on base, a number that left Twins coach Robb Quelland regretting the outcome.

“We had every opportunity in the world and couldn’t do it,” Quelland said. “That and we started too many two-out rallies.”

Featuring a lineup comprised mostly of the reigning high school champions, the 10-2 Wolverines were looking to do what kingpin teams Wasilla, Chugiak and Dimond failed to accomplish earlier in the summer. Thursday in Kenai, the Twins overcame a seven-run deficit to Dimond Post 21 to win in extra innings and preserve their pristine record.

Saturday, the Twins deployed their best pitcher, Joey Becher, to handle South. Becher did his job with 10 strikeouts and four hits given up in 6 1-3 innings on the mound, and had a no-hitter going until the top of the sixth, when Becher allowed a two-RBI double by Julito Fazzini to tie up the game at two runs apiece. Fazzini had two doubles to lead the day for South.

“I felt good starting off but the arm just got tired,” Becher said. “I just put the stress on myself and lost a little focus, and we just didn’t have the run support, and we can’t have that against this team.

“We hit the ball good today, but we hit right to (South),” Becher said. “Too many weak hits or fly-outs.”

South’s ace wasn’t perfect, but he got out the jams he needed to. Parker Johnson tossed eight innings of nine-hit ball, giving up two earned runs with three walks and two strikeouts.

“I was hitting most my spots, but I also got lucky,” Johnson admitted. “Once they started getting runners on base, I had to switch it up from my (fastball) to my offspeed stuff, to get ground-outs or force-outs.”

The Twins had a runner on third in three consecutive innings, but came up empty on the first two tries with a strike out swinging and another looking.

After four scoreless frames to start with, the Twins struck first in the bottom of the fifth when Becher brought in two runs on a single to center field on a full count.

South took a while to figure out Becher’s delivery on its side of the plate, but once they did, the Wolverines were off and running, scoring three runs in each the sixth and seventh innings. Fazzini tied the game at 2-all in the top of the sixth with his double, then Tommy Koloski put South ahead 3-2 on a two-out RBI single to center field, which proved to be a popular spot to hit Saturday.

Trevor McGinnis added to the lead in the top of the seventh with an RBI grounder to center field, and Josh Costello scored on a passed ball to stretch the lead to 5-2. Another double by Fazzini and a throwing error by Mason Prior allowed another two runs to score before the frame was done.

In the bottom of the seventh, a sacrifice bunt by Matthew Daugherty moved Paul Steffensen to third with one out, and Calvin Hills was hit by a pitch to load the bases, but the Twins again failed to capitalize when JJ Sonnen flied out to center.

Tyler Covey, Becher and Darrow had two hits apiece to lead Post 20.

“We knew there’d be a hiccup at some point,” Quelland said. “But that’s the resiliency of the team, we never give up.”

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Post 20 Twins pitcher Joey Becher delivers a pitch to a South batter Saturday at the Kenai Little League fields.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Post 20 Twins pitcher Joey Becher delivers a pitch to a South batter Saturday at the Kenai Little League fields.

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