The weather may have been ideal, but the young Legion Twins chances at a title were not Wednesday afternoon at Coral Seymour Memorial Ballpark in Kenai.
The Twins fell 9-2 to the Napoleon (Ohio) Post 300 River Bandits in a sloppy performance at the Bill Miller Wood Bat Tournament that left the Local Nine with a 1-2 record in round robin play, relegating the Twins to today’s third-place game at 1 p.m. against the West Post 1 Eagles, which lost 10-0 in five innings to the Bruins from Walla Walla, Washington, on Wednesday.
Napoleon will face the Bruins today for the championship at 10 a.m., also at Coral Seymour.
Led by the dominant pitching of burly right-handed starter Kody King, the River Bandits managed to keep the Twins scoreless for five straight innings while piling on nine runs. The Bandits did their biggest damage in the top of the third inning, when they plated three runs to take a 4-1 lead, which they never relinquished.
At the plate, Napoleon’s Hunter Bostater found the right gaps in the Twins defense by hitting 3 for 3 with two runs.
Napoleon head coach Chad Donsbach said the River Bandits, which are 21-9 overall this year, were able to take advantage of several mistakes by the inexperienced Twins roster.
“If you do those sorts of things, you’ll probably win the game,” Donsbach said.
Napoleon’s King fell short of a complete game, starting the seventh inning before being pulled in a bases-loaded jam. King finished after 6 1-3 innings, giving up just one unearned run on just two base hits, while striking out eight. Quinn Smith recorded the last two outs in scoreless relief, giving up just one hit in an otherwise perfect showing.
“He had good command of everything,” Donsbach said of King. “He struggled in the first inning, threw 26 pitches, which was a little uncharacteristic of him, but he settled right back in after that.”
Mose Hayes got the start for Post 20 and went five innings, giving up six runs on seven hits. Twins head coach Robb Quelland said Napoleon’s crisp defense and tough pitching made for a long day at the plate.
“We just don’t get to see pitching like that on a day-to-day basis,” Quelland said. “We see how well they play defense, they’re a mature club, and we lost four base runners today at the bases. I think we committed five or six errors, two by outfielders, so that’s not going to help.”
Catcher Cody Quelland and outfielder Spencer Warren led the Twins on offense, each racking up a base hit and a run, while Calvin Hills knocked in a run late.
The Twins struck first in the bottom of the first on a bases-loaded throwing error by second baseman Colin Rockey. Post 20 catcher Cody Quelland, who initially reached on a single, scored to put the Twins up 1-0.
The lead didn’t last long, however, as Napoleon stormed back in the second, tying the game with a fielder’s choice knock to second by Alex Gerken with the bases loaded.
The River Bandits took the lead in the third with an RBI infield single by Bostater. An errant throw by Quelland to second base slipped through to the outfield, allowing another run to score, and Gerken brought Bostater home on a single to put Napoleon up 4-1.
The hits kept coming for the Twins in the fourth as J.J. Rettig led off with a blistering triple to center field that got by the diving mitt of Jeremy Kupferschmid. Rettig scored on a sacrifice fly by Toby Walker to push the lead to 5-1.
The Twins managed to put runners on base in the bottom of the fourth, starting with a leadoff walk by Seth Adkins and a bunt by Hayes.
However, the Twins got a bad break on a strikeout by Logan Smith that also saw Hayes picked off at first, giving the River Bandits a rare double play. Adkins ended up getting to third on a passed ball by Ohio’s Ben Bucklew, but a pop up by pinch-hitter Adam Brinster ended the Twins’ rally attempt.
Napoleon ended up tacking on a run in the fourth and fifth innings before scoring three in the sixth to stake out a 9-1 lead.
The Twins loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh, starting with a leadoff single by Warren, forcing King to exit the game. Calvin Hills singled in a run, but Kupferschmid ended the game on a bloop out to center field that also caught Quelland out at second base for a double play.