As a three-day tournament that doesn’t count toward the American Legion record book, the annual midsummer Bill Miller Big Fish Wood Bat tournament in Kenai offers a good opportunity for the Post 20 Twins to experiment with pitching lineups and different arms.
However, Mother Nature has thrown a wrench into the mix by forcing schedule changes with East, Eagle River and Columbia, Tennessee, competing. Instead of four games on the tournament’s opening day Tuesday, only three contests were able to be played, as the Twins had to drop a game with Eagle River, and the scene had to shift crosstown from Coral Seymour Memorial Park to the Kenai Little League fields.
Nevertheless, the Twins got their full seven innings in Wednesday with a 6-2 victory over the East Anchorage Thunderbirds. The result gave the Twins their 20th win overall this summer (20-3).
Tyler Covey took the win on the mound and gave up just one hit in four scoreless innings. Covey only allowed two walks.
Post 20 coach Robb Quelland was most pleased to see his squad hitting better just one night after notching only three base hits in a 3-0 loss to Tennessee Post 19.
“Yesterday we were getting easy outs on fly balls,” Quelland said. “Today we put the ball in play and had good base running.”
Calvin Hills gave up one hit, two strikeouts and issued one walk in two innings of relief, and Josh Darrow three walks and one earned run in one inning to record the save.
Competing with wooden bats — as the tournament name suggests — the Twins knocked out eight hits, led by the 3-for-3 day of Hills, whose outing included a double.
“That’s really the difference of wood bats, the ball comes off slower,” Quelland explained.
With the win, the Twins are 1-1 in the tournament heading into today’s 10 a.m. game against Eagle River, which will be back at Coral Seymour Memorial Park. If Post 20 wins, they will play in the championship game at 1 p.m. Tennessee currently leads the tournament with a 3-0 record and are guaranteed a spot in the championship matchup, while Eagle River is 0-2 and needs to beat the Twins to play in the afternoon title tilt. A consolation game may also be played after the championship.
In Wednesday’s other game, Tennessee bested Eagle River 9-0 in five innings due to rain.
Against an East squad they had dominated in a 25-0 league win earlier in the summer, the Twins came out swinging, recording base hits in each inning.
Hills opened the scoring with a run on a fielder’s choice throw in the bottom of the second frame that started with batter Gavin Petterson tagged out at first on a sprint after a passed ball. Mason Prior then added to the score on a groundout by Justice Miller, giving the Twins a 2-0 lead.
The Twins avoided an East run in the top of the third with an interesting double play. East batter Stanley Dolberto was called out at first on a dropped third strike throw, then Twins catcher Cody Quelland caught the throw back home and withstood a charge to the plate by East’s Tank Jackson, keeping the Thunderbirds off the board.
In the bottom of the third, Joey Becher hit an RBI single that scored Paul Steffensen and stretched the lead to 3-0, and in the fourth frame, Kenny Griffin launched a sacrifice fly to center field to bring in Miller for a 4-0 advantage.
Steffensen had an RBI double in the sixth and Darrow scored on a passed ball to boost the lead to 6-0.
Kevin Lewis scored first for East in the top of the seventh when a line drive by Jackson glanced off the outstretched glove of Petterson at third base and into left field. The play left the bases loaded with no outs with Darrow on the mound.