Twins stay alive with state win over Fairbanks

The American Legion Twins are down, but not out.

After falling in a 4-3 walkoff loss to South on Tuesday’s opening day of the Legion State tournament in Anchorage, the Twins were facing the threat of elimination Wednesday morning at Mulcahy Field.

However, two late runs provided the key to victory in a 4-2 triumph over Fairbanks Post 11, ensuring Post 20 another day of action.

“It’s important to our program,” said Twins coach Robb Quelland. “There’s a lot of tradition with this team, over forty years, and we feel we have the same destiny as the 2012 team.”

It was three years ago that the 2012 Twins regrouped from an opening day upset loss to come back and claim the tournament championship against the odds over Chugiak.

“That’s our goal too, and we don’t get discouraged losing one game,” Quelland said.

In the double-elimination format, any loss by a team in the loser’s bracket will send them packing. But for now, the sixth-seeded Twins will face the Valley squad tomorrow at 11 a.m. Valley lost 7-3 to Chugiak in the winner’s bracket quarterfinals.

The Twins split a doubleheader with Valley in late June, dropping a 6-3 league game and rallying from behind to win a 10-9 nonleague game. Quelland said since then, Post 20 has morphed into a better, more efficient group of players that can take on any team in the state and battle with them.

“We can’t wait to play them,” he said.

With a 2-2 game headed into the bottom of the eighth, Post 20 managed to scrounge up a little of the late-season magic that got it into the postseason.

Kenny Griffin started with a leadoff bunt that landed him safely at first base, and Tommy Bowe continued with a single. Griffin scored the go-ahead run on a fielder’s choice hit by Jake Conver that saw Griffin beat out the throw to home plate. Bowe then added to the lead on a passed ball.

In the top of the ninth, Fairbanks got a man to second base, but Klayton Justice struck out the next two batters and ended the game with a pop fly to center field. Justice cleaned up in the final two frames with one hit and two strikeouts. Kyle Johnson started on the mound for the Twins and worked seven innings, giving up one earned run on seven hits with three strikeouts.

By the end of the day Wednesday, the Alaska Legion AA organization posted a “Team of Excellence” list, an all-state team of sorts. Listed among the nine starting pitchers was Joey Becher, and among only three catchers, Kenny Griffin. Quelland said Becher and Griffin have combined to create a formidable pitcher-catcher force this summer.

“We’re always confident with our pitching staff, no matter who it is,” Quelland said. “It’s a great battery between the two of them.”

Also listed among “honorable mentions” are Post 20 infielders Josh Darrow and Tommy Bowe.

Earlier in Wednesday’s game, the Twins came back from a deficit twice to tie Fairbanks. After Post 11 scored a run in the top of the third, a single by Josh Darrow brought J.J. Sonnen in to tie the game up.

In the sixth inning, Fairbanks scored on an RBI single to take a 2-1 lead, but an RBI double by Justice Miller put the two teams level once again.

Tyler Covey, Josh Darrow and Bowe all provided two hits at the plate to lead the Twins, which had nine hits to Fairbanks’ eight. Each team committed two errors.

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