Post 20 Twins reliever Johnny Brinner delivers to East on Wednesday, July 13, 2022, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Post 20 Twins reliever Johnny Brinner delivers to East on Wednesday, July 13, 2022, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Twins, in battle for state berth, top East

The American Legion Post 20 Twins defeated East 5-2 Wednesday in league play at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai.

The crucial win comes as the Twins battle for a spot in the state tournament.

Post 20 is now 8-7 in the league and 14-13 overall, while East is 1-14 and 4-22.

The top two teams in the two divisions qualify for state. Then the next best four teams qualify for state regardless of division.

Eagle River, Chugiak, Service and South are currently the division leaders. In the group battling for the next four spots are Bartlett at 10-6, Dimond at 9-5, Palmer at 9-7, Wasilla at 8-7, Kenai at 8-7 and Juneau at 6-6. The legion regular season is 16 games.

The Twins conclude their league regular season with a 4 p.m. game against West today at 4 p.m. at Seymour Park. West is 4-10 and 6-20.

Twins coach Robb Quelland said the Twins can’t focus on all the variables at play in the standings. The team has to just focus on beating West.

“This win only means we have to win the second one as well,” said Post 20’s Gabe Smith, who came through with four RBIs against East.

Smith said the team is feeling good going into the crucial game.

“We like each other, have a solid team and have teamwork,” he said. “Some teams get down on each other. They drop a game because when one person falls all nine on the diamond do.

“We can pick each other up. And that, I think, is really crucial.”

Smith put the Twins up 2-0 in the first when he singled with two outs to score Atticus Gibson and Hunter Williams.

Smith kept right on rolling in the third inning when his one-out triple scored Williams and Jacob Belger. Andrew Pieh then singled in Smith for a 5-0 lead.

“For me, it’s just take it easy, breathe easy,” Smith said. “I pray between every pitch. I’m a religious guy. So for me, it’s just lower the heart rate.”

The five runs were plenty for Twins pitchers Malakai Olson and Johnny Brinner.

Olson went 3 2-3 innings and gave up two unearned runs on four hits while walking one and striking out five. Brinner went 3 1-3 scoreless innings, giving up two hits while walking two and striking out three.

“This reminds me of three or four years ago, where we can go to almost any arm and they’re OK,” Quelland said. “We not having to run our starters beyond their peak performance.”

Gibson and Smith each had two hits as the Twins had nine hits on the day. Quelland said the Twins have been inconsistent at the plate.

“Our defense hopefully holds up and our pitching hopefully holds up and keeps us going,” he said.

For East, Andrew Hickman went four innings, giving up five runs — three earned — on seven hits. Andrew Malone went two scoreless innings, giving up two hits. Hickman had two of East’s six hits.

East coach Halquay Hauoli said he has a young squad that has improved all year. Catcher Bryce Erikson was the only senior available Wednesday.

“We’re really young,” Hauoli said. “We’ve had some rough games this year. But the kids are starting to look promising. We’re seeing a lot of the hard work that they’re putting in pay off.”

Post 20 Twins’ Hunter Williams gets the force at second on East’s Alan Contreras but is late throwing to first for the double play Wednesday, July 13, 2022, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Post 20 Twins’ Hunter Williams gets the force at second on East’s Alan Contreras but is late throwing to first for the double play Wednesday, July 13, 2022, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

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