Charlie Chamberlain of the American Legion Twins beats the tag of West second baseman Orion Halliburton on Sunday, June 11, 2023, at the Soldotna Little League fields in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Charlie Chamberlain of the American Legion Twins beats the tag of West second baseman Orion Halliburton on Sunday, June 11, 2023, at the Soldotna Little League fields in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Sunday: Twins sweep West

The American Legion Twins swept West on Sunday at the Soldotna Little League fields to move to 3-1 in the league and 5-2 overall.

Not bad for a team that has only had two practices.

“We’ve got two practices and we’re combining four schools,” Twins coach Robb Quelland said. “The kids don’t even know each other’s names or anything about each other.

“It’s always impressive that these kids come through every year. It only takes us a couple of weeks.”

The Twins won the league game 9-8 in eight innings before taking the nonleague game 17-6 in five innings. West fell to 1-2 in the league and 4-4 overall.

The story in the league game was a strong wind blowing out of the park. Soldotna Little League is a small park with a short fence as it is. Combine that with the wind, and both teams hit a pair of home runs.

Quelland has plenty of experience coaching at Soldotna Little League fields going back to his days with Soldotna High School.

“It’s not usually an onslaught of home runs,” he said. “We got here this morning and the trash cans were down the road and all the stuff was blowing.

“It was like, ‘It’s gonna be a bad day. It’s gonna be a spendy day on balls.’”

Braden Smith of the Twins got the home run parade going early, parking the ball behind the right field fence in the bottom of the first.

West went up 4-1 in the top of the second as both Braden Meissner and Makai Baylous had RBI singles and also scored in the inning.

Smith took a shot off his pitching hand in the inning, but was able to stay in and give the Twins six good innings. He gave up seven runs — six earned — on seven hits while striking out four.

“Braden’s pretty tough,” Quelland said.

West went up 5-1 in the third when Sam Zieserl doubled and scored on an error.

The Twins rallied in the top of the third to take a 6-5 lead. The big blows were a two-RBI single from Charlie Chamberlain and a three-run home run from Atticus Gibson.

“With the short field and the wind blowing out, keeping them in the ballpark is the hard part,” West coach Dane Kreischer said. “They hit a three-run homer with runners on, and we hit two bombs but didn’t have anyone on.

“Getting beat on those is tough, but the boys battled hard, so I can’t be too mad at them.”

West tied it in the top of the fifth on a home run by Orion Halliburton, but the Twins went up 7-6 in the bottom of the fifth when Jayden Stuyvesant scored on an error.

Kreischer said starter Baylous did a good job not worrying about the fly-ball home runs. Baylous pitched five innings and gave up seven runs on nine hits while walking three and striking out two.

“That’s what we teach, don’t worry about the results, worry about the execution,” Kreischer said. “When they make their pitches, we’re a pretty hard team to beat when we’re putting up runs.”

A home run by Beckett Stolp tied it in the top of the sixth.

In the top of the eighth, Zieserl put West up 8-7 when he walked, stole second and third, and scored on a ground ball by Evan Fitzgerald.

In a game with so many home runs, the Twins used the bunt to win it in the bottom of the eighth.

After Simon Grenier started the inning with a single, Andrew Pieh laid down a perfect bunt to put runners on first and second.

Pieh had the power to end the game with a two-run home run, so was Quelland tempted to let him swing away?

“No,” he said. “You know, most teams, their top three or four you’re gonna swing away. But no, it was talked about before.”

Kreischer credited Pieh with a great bunt. He said West had the right coverage on but the bunt was too good.

Smith bunted again and when West pitcher Joey Walker slipped fielding the ball, the bases were loaded with no outs and the Nos. 3 and 4 hitters coming up.

“We’ve been successful year after year on small ball,” Quelland said. “Bunting, it’s kind of a dying phase of the game. Very few people do it, and they don’t practice defending it.”

Chamberlain and Gibson hammered a few singles to win the game.

Pieh picked up the win in relief, going two innings and giving up a run on no hits while walking two and striking out two.

Walker gave up two runs — one earned — in two innings on five hits to take the loss.

For the Twins at the plate, Smith was 2 for 3 with two runs, Chamberlain was 2 for 4 with three RBIs, Gibson was 2 for 5 with four RBIs, Derrick Jones was 2 for 4 and Grenier was 2 for 3 with two runs.

In the nonleague game, the Twins scored 11 runs in the bottom of the first to take command of the game.

Jones worked three innings and gave up an unearned run on a hit for the win. Grenier gave up four runs — two earned — in an inning, while Gabe Joanis gave up an unearned run in an inning.

West had seven errors and just 4 of the 17 runs were earned.

Chamberlain was 3 for 4 with three runs and four RBIs, while Pieh had two runs, Smith had three runs and two RBIs and Ari Miller had two runs.

Meissner had two runs for West.

The Twins are off until Saturday, when they host Eagle River for a 1 p.m. league game and 3 p.m. nonleague game at Coral Seymour Memorial Park.

Atticus Gibson (right) of the American Legion Twins is congratulated on a three-run home run by Braden Smith and Charlie Chamberlain on Sunday, June 11, 2023, at the Soldotna Little League fields in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Atticus Gibson (right) of the American Legion Twins is congratulated on a three-run home run by Braden Smith and Charlie Chamberlain on Sunday, June 11, 2023, at the Soldotna Little League fields in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Jace Crall of the American Legion Twins slides under the tag of West first baseman Cyrus Clendaniel on Sunday, June 11, 2023, at the Soldotna Little League fields in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Jace Crall of the American Legion Twins slides under the tag of West first baseman Cyrus Clendaniel on Sunday, June 11, 2023, at the Soldotna Little League fields in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Derrick Jones of the American Legion Twins is tagged out by West third baseman Jack Boots on a steal attempt Sunday, June 11, 2023, at the Soldotna Little League fields in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Derrick Jones of the American Legion Twins is tagged out by West third baseman Jack Boots on a steal attempt Sunday, June 11, 2023, at the Soldotna Little League fields in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

American Legion Twins second baseman Trenton Ohnemus chases West’s Jack Boots in a rundown Sunday, June 11, 2023, at the Soldotna Little League fields in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

American Legion Twins second baseman Trenton Ohnemus chases West’s Jack Boots in a rundown Sunday, June 11, 2023, at the Soldotna Little League fields in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

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