Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Twins center fielder Paul Steffensen takes a pitch Friday against Juneau at the American Legion Alaska State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium in Anchorage. Steffensen was named MVP of the tournament.

Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion Twins center fielder Paul Steffensen takes a pitch Friday against Juneau at the American Legion Alaska State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium in Anchorage. Steffensen was named MVP of the tournament.

Twins start play at Northwest Regionals on Wednesday

Two and a barbecue.

According to Lance Coz, the general manager of the American Legion Twins for 44 years now, that is what most people expect of the Alaska representative at the American Legion Northwest Regional Tournament.

As in, play two games, attend a barbecue, and go back home.

The Twins have been Outside four times previously — after state titles in 1991, 1995 and 2012 and after a state runner-up in 2015 — and each time have failed to win a game.

Coming off Saturday’s 8-7 state championship victory over Service, the Twins (32-8 overall) will look to change that history when they play the Kennewick Outlaws, the Washington state champion, Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. ADT in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

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Twins coach Robb Quelland likes his team’s chances of getting a win.

“I think we have a good chance, due to our pitching more than anything else,” Quelland said. “Our pitching should hold up for at least a game or two.”

Quelland said Gavin Petterson, Joey Becher and Matthew Daugherty all have been solid starters on the mound this season.

The reasons Alaska teams struggle at the tournament are many. Alaska is a cold-weather state with a relatively small population base.

Then there is the element of travel. Cheyenne is at 6,063 feet of elevation and the temperature is expected to be in the 90s.

“You’re basically facing a bunch of Tennessees down there,” Coz said.

The American Legion squad from Columbia, Tennessee, toured Alaska this summer. The Twins lost all three games — 3-0, 3-2 and 7-1.

“It was nice getting that experience against Tennessee,” Quelland said. “We didn’t win any, but those were all close games.”

Another thing that plays in the Twins favor is that all 13 players will be able to make the trip. In the past, the Twins have always lost valuable players to football or other commitments.

Among the players making the trip will be Paul Steffensen, who was named the MVP of the state tournament after hitting .444 with nine RBIs in five games.

He had highlight plays in center field, and a memorable inside-the-park grand slam.

This is Steffensen’s first year of Legion ball, but he is clearly on the rise.

“He’s an amazing young man,” Quelland said. “He’s the unsung hero of our team, and if you’d ever get a chance to talk to him, you’d never know he is the star of Alaska.”

Regardless of what happens, Coz has learned to make it a celebration of a successful season. He said the pressure by American Legion is to get losing teams out of town as quick as possible, but Coz has learned to work a few days of enjoyment into the trip.

That should give the Twins a chance to savor winning state this year after finishing second last year.

There were four players from this year’s team — Josh Darrow, Tyler Covey, Justice Miller and Daugherty — with siblings on the team in 2012 — Jake Darrow, Josiah Covey, Shane Miller and Mitchel Daugherty.

“It was always talked about — going up against that 2012 team,” Quelland said.

Although Quelland said the team is only aging out four, the coach added that many players won’t be back because they are talented enough to have opportunities elsewhere. So the time is now to savor the moment.

But Quelland added that the future is still bright. The Twins junior varsity team this year lost just two games this year, including a 12-3 loss to Chugiak on Sunday in the state championship.

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