Twins split with South, but get league win

American Legion Twins pitcher Joey Becher showed how far he has come in the past year in securing a key league victory over South in baseball action Wednesday at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai.

Becher persevered through a couple of thorny situations in the late innings to lock down a 3-2 victory over the defending legion state champs and the state runner-ups from this spring’s high school season.

In the second game, a nonleague contest, South notched a 7-5 win.

The Twins moved to 4-5 in the league and 9-7 overall, while South is 5-3 and 7-4.

When asked if he could have navigated Wednesday’s late innings last season, Becher, who will be a senior at Soldotna High School in the fall, was unequivocal.

“No way,” he said. “Not a chance. I was too inexperienced.”

Twins coach Gary Oliver also said Becher has improved over the course of a year.

“He said it, I didn’t,” Oliver said. “But, yea, he’s doing a good job this year.”

The game matched Becher, a 6-foot-4 righty, with South’s Tommy Koloski, a 6-foot-5 righty. Becher gave up two unearned runs on five hits while Koloski also went the distance, allowing just one earned run on four hits.

The Twins took advantage of Koloski’s slow start in the first inning. JJ Sonnen and Calvin Hills walked to start the game, then Josh Darrow singled to score Sonnen.

Tommy Bowe then grounded out to third, but Hills scored when the throw from first to home was dropped by catcher Brendon Hayhurst. Darrow moved to third on the play and would score on a grounder by Kenny Griffin.

“It was nice pitching with that lead,” Becher said.

Those three runs would be all Becher would get.

In the fifth inning, a walk, two wild pitches, a passed ball and two errors led to runs by Lian Lincoln and Bryce Schwarz to cut the gap to 3-2.

But Becher recovered to retire 3 of 4 in the sixth.

“I wanted to go all seven,” Becher said. “Coach said he would see how I was doing after the sixth.”

In the top of the seventh, pinch hitter Hunter Johnson started the inning with a single, but Lincoln then hit into a double play. However, singles by Parker Johnson and Jonny Holmza, and a walk by Koloski, loaded the bases with two outs.

Hayhurst then hit a tailing liner to right which Mason Prior snatched from the air with a diving catch.

“I just tried throwing strikes,” Becher said. “(Catcher) Kenny Griffin did a great job calling the game.”

South coach Cliff Butcher said his pitching and defense have been fine this year, but the team hasn’t been as sound offensively. But he is confident things will change, and after winning state as the No. 8 seed last year, there’s no reason to doubt him.

“Until the last out of the last game is made, I don’t think anybody will be counting out South,” he said.

Oliver also would like to see the Twins hit more consistently. But he said he hopes the clutch victory against South puts the squad on the right path.

“I hope this is what we needed,” Oliver said after winning a second-straight league game. “I keep telling them they have to come together for the month of July. Here it is, July 1, and we beat a quality, quality team.”

In the second game, it was South jumping out to the early lead and hanging on.

The Wolverines got four runs — two earned — in the first inning off Bowe, who would go two innings. Sonnen then came on and allowed two runs in two innings, and Calvin Hills gave up a run in an inning. Justice Miller and Klayton Justice finished with scoreless innings.

But the Twins couldn’t make the comeback, getting just five hits in the game. South had 11 hits.

“We had chances to score runs, but they came out swinging in that second game,” Oliver said. “They hit the ball a lot more than they did in the first game.”

Prior was 1 for 1 with a run and a double, while Kyle Johnson was 2 for 2 and Cody Quelland had two RBIs.

The Twins’ next games start Tuesday with the Bill Miller Big Fish Wood Bat Tournament. The Twins host Alaska teams East and Service, as well as Castroville, Texas; Team Avenue Academy, California; and Napoleon, Ohio.

The schedule for Tuesday is Ohio vs. Service at 10 a.m. at Seymour Park; California vs. Texas at noon at the Kenai Little League fields; East vs. Ohio at 1 p.m. at Seymour Park; California vs. the Twins at 4 p.m. at Seymour Park; Service vs. East at 5 p.m. at the Kenai Little League fields; and Texas vs. Kenai at 7 p.m. at Seymour Park.

More in Sports

College football updates on Brantley III, Metcalf, Dahlgren

Soldotna High School graduate Galen Brantley III earned First Team All-North Star… Continue reading

Kenai Centra's Jack Laker leads skiers at the start of the Turkey Skate on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
SoHi’s Boonstra, Kenai’s Chase Laker win Turkey Skate to start ski season

Kenai Central’s Chase Laker and Soldotna’s Tania Boonstra won the Turkey Skate… Continue reading

Ice Dogs sweep Brown Bears

The Kenai River Brown Bears were swept by the Fairbanks Ice Dogs… Continue reading

Nikiski's Destiny Langston and Soldotna' Meg Roberts battle at 235 pounds Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023, at Soldotna High School in Soldotna, Alaska. Roberts won 7-4. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna wrestling celebrates senior night with 2 dual victories

The Soldotna wrestling team celebrated senior night by capturing a pair of… Continue reading

Nikiski’s Johnson helps George Fox to historic season; Soldotna’s Arthur runs at NAIA nationals

Nikiski Middle-High School graduate Kaitlin Johnson helped the George Fox volleyball team… Continue reading

Soldotna junior Daisy Hannevold tries to turn Palmerճ Lillie Vansiegman during the girls 138-pound final of the Lancer Smith Memorial on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, at the Menard Arena in Wasilla. (Photo by Jeremiah Bartz/Frontiersman)
SoHi girls wrestlers win Lancer Smith Memorial, SoHi boys take 2nd

The Soldotna girls wrestling team won the Lancer Smith Memorial on Friday… Continue reading

Kenai River's Dylan Contreras drives the net against Anchorage Wolverines' Jackson Stimple and Liam Beerman on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Saturday: Wolverines complete sweep of Brown Bears

The Anchorage Wolverines defeated the Kenai River Brown Bears 7-2 on Saturday… Continue reading

Kenai Central's Will Howard attacks against Kodiak's Theron Glover on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, at the Kenai Multi-Purpose Facility in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Saturday: Colony wins Kenai River Cup

Colony defeated Palmer 6-5 in overtime on Saturday at the Kenai Multi-Purpose… Continue reading

Saturday: Soldotna hockey bounces back against Juneau

The Soldotna hockey team defeated Juneau-Douglas Kale 3-1 on Saturday in… Continue reading

Soldotna's Chase Willis (left) celebrates his goal against Juneau-Douglas: Kale with Draiden Mullican and Andrew Arthur on Friday, Nov. 17, 2023, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Friday: Juneau hockey holds off Soldotna’s comeback

The Juneau-Douglas: Kale hockey team defeated Soldotna 4-3 on Friday in… Continue reading

Friday: Wolverines defeat Brown Bears

The Anchorage Wolverines defeated the Kenai River Brown Bears 7-5 on Friday… Continue reading

Friday: Colony, Palmer move to 2-0 at Kenai River Cup

Colony, Palmer and Tri-Valley picked up victories Friday at the second day… Continue reading