South nips Twins at 1st day of state

The American Legion Twins dropped their first game of the state tournament 3-2 to South on Thursday at Mulcahy Stadium in Anchorage.

The first part of the tournament is round-robin, so the Twins are still alive for the state title. No. 7 Post 20 is in the Alyeska division with No. 2 Chugiak, No. 3 South and No. 6 Bartlett. The top two teams from each division advance to Monday’s semifinals.

The Twins get today off before playing Chugiak on Saturday at 4 p.m. and Bartlett on Sunday at 2 p.m.

Against South, Post 20 was down 3-1 after the bottom of the second inning, but could not find the tying run despite having the bases loaded in the sixth and seventh innings.

“We played really well,” Twins coach Robb Quelland said. “We just missed one element of baseball — we just didn’t hit.

“The other elements were there — we played strong defense and our pitching was on track. Our pitching plan for the week is still in good order.”

Quelland said the difference in the game was South starter and winner Isaac Johnson. He pitched six innings and gave up just three hits and an unearned run while walking one and punching out six.

Other than the pitching of the Napoleon (Ohio) Post 300 River Bandits, who have four pitchers committed to Division I schools, Quelland said Johnson was the best the Twins have seen in the state of Alaska this year.

“He controlled the zone and hit every spot he needed to,” Quelland said. “We could not get a square bat on the ball.”

Daltyn Deborski got the Twins off to a great start in the top of the first inning. Batting leadoff, he lofted a fly ball to right field. South’s right fielder charged and dove for the ball, but it got by him. When the throw to third sailed out of play, Deborski was awarded home after his triple and gave the Twins a 1-0 lead.

South came back with a run in the bottom of the first. Ben Neuberger doubled and scored on a triple by Kaden Bevegni.

In the second inning, Hunter Manderson doubled and scored on a double by AJ Sawicki. Sawacki made it 3-1 when he scored on a single by Skyler Sugita.

Malakai Olson took the loss for the Twins, going two innings and giving up three runs on six hits. Hunter Willliams (three innings) and Atticus Gibson (one inning) shut South out the rest of the way, combining to give up just four hits.

Twins pitchers did not walk any batters.

“Pitching today was not the problem,” Quelland said.

In the sixth inning, the Twins loaded the bases with one out, but Gabe Smith grounded back to Johnson, who started a double play.

In the seventh, with Johnson out of the game, the Twins rallied with two outs to make it 3-2 when Charlie Chamberlain scored on a wild pitch by Blake Peterson. With the bases loaded, Hunter Manderson got Williams to ground out to end the game.

“We had our chances,” Quelland said. “Just one ball out of the infield and the score would have been different.”

Belger and Williams had the Twins’ other two hits. Quelland said Belger also was great at catcher. He allowed the Twins to record a weird double play. After getting the force at second, the Twins threw wildly to first, but Belger backed the play up and cut the runner down at second.

Quelland said many players got their first taste of state.

“They’re here and they’re in a position to do well,” he said. “The past couple times we were here, perhaps we didn’t have as good of a shot to do well.

“The future is bright with the young players on this team and the A team.”

The Team of Excellence was also announced Thursday. Gibson made the squad as both a pitcher and outfielder, Belger made it at catcher and Williams made it as a utility player.

Quelland was one of five named Head Coach of the Year, while Twins assistant Ken Gibson was one of five named Assistant Coach of the Year.

On the mound, Gibson went 3-3 with a 3.15 ERA, striking out 31 and walking 10 in 37 2-3 innings pitched. The strong-armed center fielder hit .420 with 21 runs and 13 RBIs.

Belger hit .329 with 18 RBIs and 19 runs, also stealing 19 bases. Williams hit .329 with 24 runs and 14 RBIs.

Getting honorable mention for the Twins were Williams at pitcher and Deborski at infielder.

Williams was 3-1 with a 2.38 ERA, striking out 23 and walking 21 in 29 1-3 innings. Deborski hit .321 with 28 runs and six RBIs, stealing 15 bases.

Legion Team of Excellence

Pitchers — Blake Bacho, Bartlett; Alex Bruce, Dimond; Miah Eneix, Dimond; Atticus Gibson, Kenai; Landon Guggenmos, Palmer; Isaac Johnson, South; Liam Lierman, Eagle River; Blake Peterson, South; Preston Rau, Chugiak; Kai Schmidt, Juneau.

Catchers — Jacob Belger, Kenai; Bryant Marks, Palmer; Coen Niclai, Service.

Infielders — Hunter Christian, Service; Miah Eneix, Dimond; Connor Lanehart, Chugiak; Liam Lierman, Eagle River; Oliver Mendoza, Juneau; Ben Neuberger, South; Gavin Partch, South; Shane Stephan, Dimond.

Outfielders — Terik Brown, Ketchikan; Carl Colavecchio, Bartlett; Cam Costanios, Chugiak; Atticus Gibson, Kenai; Luke Ivanoff, South; Porter Nelson, Juneau; Josh Thompson, Eagle River.

Utility — Owen Hickman, Service; Koen Leaders, Palmer; Hunter Williams, Kenai.

Head Coaches of the Year — Bill Lierman, Eagle River; Willie Paul, Service; Robb Quelland, Kenai; John Sims, Chugiak; Ty Walters, Bartlett.

Assistant Coaches of the Year — Ken Gibson, Kenai; Tito Munoz, Service; Matt Sugita, South; Jasen Thompson, Eagle River; Joe Tompkins, Juneau.

Honorable mention

Pitchers — Colby Hanchey, Ketchikan; Owen Hayes, Palmer; Dalson Hines, North Pole; Karson Kolberg, Eagle River; Chase Mathews, Dimond; Oliver Mendoza, Juneau; Porter Nelson, Juneau; Jake Rafferty, Service; Jaren Venie, Wasilla; Hunter Williams, Kenai.

Catchers — Eli Corwin, Bartlett; Dalson Hines, North Pole; Kai Schmidt, Juneau; Dalin Roberts, Eagle River; Connor Johnson, Eagle River; Noah Lower, Eagle River.

Infielders — Blake Bacho, Bartlett; Alex Bond, Wasilla; Alex Bruce, Dimond; Alan Contreras, East; Daltyn Deborski, Kenai; Sean Giffen, Service; Orion Halliburton, West; Owen Hayes, Palmer; Luke Helgeson, Bartlett; I

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