Welcome back to the big show, Twins.
With a little bit of outside help, the Post 20 Twins qualified for the Legion AA state tournament this weekend to keep their outstanding postseason record of success intact. The Twins are going to state for the 32nd straight year.
The Twins officially clinched a state spot when Ketchikan lost to Kodiak 14-7 in the second game of a Tuesday doubleheader in Anchorage, officially eliminating the Kings from the postseason championship. If Ketchikan had won, the Kings would be the ones heading to the state tourney on a tiebreaker over the Twins, who finished 10-8 in league play this summer.
Ketchikan won the first game 13-8 to keep its state hopes alive, but Kodiak staged an impressive rally in Game 2 to win it 14-7. Ketchikan led 6-0 after three innings, but Kodiak answered with two massive rallies, scoring six runs to tie it in the bottom of the fifth, then plating eight runs in the sixth to take a daunting lead the Bears never gave up.
“It’s exciting,” said Twins head coach Robb Quelland. “It’s an honor to participate in the state tournament at the highest level that Alaska has to offer.”
As the eighth and final seed, Post 20 gets its tournament under way Friday night at Anchorage’s Mulcahy Field against No. 1 Juneau, which finished 17-1 in league play this year.
The state appearance also continues a remarkable run for the Twins, with the one and only miss being 1986. With the Legion Twins program starting in 1970, it makes 48 out of 49 years the Twins have played at state, although general manager Lance Coz noted that some years featured a format in which all the teams qualified. The current format has been in effect since 2014.
“Quite truthfully, this is the only year we’ve had to depend on help from our friends to make it,” Coz said, referring to Ketchikan’s loss. “We thank them for that.”
Post 20 had to battle this summer to wrangle the final qualifying bid, as a young team that was top-heavy with experienced veterans lost a chance to secure a championship tourney spot last Saturday with two league losses to Wasilla and Ketchikan.
It meant the Twins had to rely on other teams to defeat Ketchikan.
“We’re young, and we’re fortunate to get 10 wins this year,” Quelland said. “As much as we should have had it, it’s hard it get 10 wins in this league. The teams at the top have one or two losses, and that’s tough.”
As for the superlative record of postseason appearances, Quelland pointed out that most of the state’s powerhouse programs have suffered through off years that led to missed state showings, so it leaves the Twins as a shining example of consistency. The Twins have four state crowns in program history in 1991, 1995, 2012 and 2016.
“You have those up and down years, but the kids pull it together and qualify,” he said.