The working man and the military man helped the American Legion Twins snap a three-game losing streak Monday at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai.
Paul Steffensen, who worked for the city of Kenai both before and after the game, and Cody Quelland, playing his last home game before going to the United States Military Academy in West Point, played key roles as the Twins topped Kodiak 14-4 in the league contest in six innings.
In the nonleague game, the Twins scored eight times in the bottom of the seventh inning to top Kodiak 16-15. The Twins are 6-2 in the league and 9-5 overall, while Kodiak is 1-8 and 2-11.
Steffensen finished 1 for 2 with two runs and two RBIs. He also picked up the win on the mound, going 2 2-3 innings and allowing a run on three hits.
“We take our hats off to Paul,” Twins coach Robb Quelland said. “He gives us whatever he can. He came and played with very little warmup, then he was right back to work after the game.
“It was an extended lunch break.”
Cody Quelland got the start on the bump and went 3 1-3 innings, allowing three runs on four hits. At the plate he was 1 for 3 with a run and two RBIs. The hit came in the sixth inning, when he laced the ball into right-center and legged out a triple to score Steffensen.
Robb Quelland, who is Cody’s father, said it was definitely special watching his son play his final game at home. Thursday, Cody will play a pair of games in Anchorage before reporting to West Point.
For a while, Kodiak was on track to spoil Quelland’s final day at home. The Bears, who were the home team on the scoreboard, took a 3-1 lead into the fifth inning.
Logan Smith led off with a double for the Twins, then Harrison Metz reached when nobody covered first on his bunt.
June 16, Kodiak began its nine-game road trip against the Twins and had the lead in the league game until a costly error on a bunt led to a 9-4 Twins victory.
“Guess what we are going to work on in practice when we get back to Kodiak,” Kodiak coach Derek Clarkston said.
The Bears were playing their third doubleheader in three days, and starting with the misplay on the bunt, it showed. The Twins would score five runs in the fifth inning and eight in the sixth inning to effect the mercy rule.
“It was a tough loss in more than one way,” Clarkston said.
In the fourth inning, Kodiak catcher Nathan James, who led Kodiak by going 2 for 4, injured his leg on a successful steal of second base. James somehow stayed in the game to catch. By the seventh inning, he was so hobbled that he was nearly thrown out from the outfield when he led off with a single.
“He’s just a gamer, legging out that hit,” Clarkston said. “He’s competitive. He wants to win.”
The game turned scary in the top of the sixth when Smith lofted a fly to left-center. Kodiak center fielder Anders Hocum and left fielder Hunter Williams collided chasing the ball, with Williams taking the worst of it. He was able to walk off the field after five minutes on the turf, but was taken to the hospital to get checked out.
Clarkston said Williams is just 13 and is with the team because he loves baseball, so the injury was tough to absorb. To make matters even worse, Kodiak second baseman Khyler Kane came down with a stomach ailment during the game and had to be replaced in the sixth inning.
“Just like the last time we saw them, they came out and out-pitched, out-hit and outplayed us,” Quelland said. “They are a good team.
“Then the road trip took a toll on them, and I think our maturity showed.”
For the Twins, Austin Asp was 3 for 4 with two RBIs, while Jeremy Kupferschmid was 2 for 4 with three runs, Trapper Thompson was 2 for 4 and Smith was 2 for 4. Adam Brinster, David Michael and Harrison Metz added hits for the Twins.
Shaun Walton started for Kodiak and went 5 2-3 innings, giving up 14 runs and 14 hits. Clarkston said Walton did well but was bit by errors. Clarkston said the teams Kodiak has played thus far this season are now a combined 30-6 in league play.
In the second game, Asp was hit by a pitch to force in Logan Smith with the winning run in the seventh.
The Bears used five pitchers in the game, while the Twins used four. Metz was 2 for 3 with three runs for the Twins, while Davey Belger was 3 for 5 with two runs and two RBIs. Kupferschmid, Adam Brinster, Andrew Carver, Asp and Quelland added hits.
For Kodiak, Luke James was 3 for 5 with two runs and four RBIs, while Chase Good was 3 for 4 with three runs and two RBIs, and Jace Crall was 2 for 4 with two runs and two RBIs.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a team come back from eight runs down in an inning for a walkoff win,” Quelland said. “A win’s a win but it wasn’t pretty.