When a pitcher is as hot as the weather, it’s difficult to yank him off the mound.
Thursday at a sun-splashed Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai, Legion Twins pitcher Joey Becher took his perfect game with him when the coaching staff decided he’d had enough, and he was perfectly fine with it.
“For us, it’s all about state,” Becher said. “As long as we’re in the tournament healthy.”
Becher pitched four innings without allowing a base runner against West Post 1, striking out six of the 12 batters he faced, and the Post 20 Twins dominated a 10-0 league victory Thursday afternoon in six innings.
The win boosted Post 20’s league record to 5-0 and overall mark to 7-1.
The Twins continued the success with a 15-5 nonleague victory over West later in the day. After the Eagles took a 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning, Post 20 responded with 11 runs in the bottom of the frame. Josh Darrow ended up hitting 3 for 4 with four RBIs to lead the Twins.
In the first game, Becher retired the West order in each inning, including five straight strikeouts spanning the second and third frames.
“I had a good bullpen session yesterday,” Becher explained. “Threw about 40 pitches.”
Tyler Covey entered the game in relief of Becher and gave up two hits and a walk in two scoreless innings.
Twins coach Robb Quelland said there was no issue in pulling Becher, pointing to the depth of the squad the program currently enjoys.
“He’s a team player, and it’s one of the blessings with this team,” Quelland said. “It goes back to earlier in the year, and we’re still playing team baseball.”
Post 20 broke open a close game with seven runs in the fourth inning, highlighted by a two-RBI single by catcher Cody Quelland and a booming two-RBI triple by Paul Steffensen that boosted the Twins lead to 7-0.
Patrolling center field, Steffensen also came up clutch early with a running catch on a pop fly to help preserve Becher’s perfect outing on the mound.
“Oh man, I can’t say enough for him,” Becher said about Steffensen’s grab. First baseman Mathew Daugherty also provided several clutch putouts for Becher, who praised his entire supporting cast.
“As soon as (West) hit, they were there, and they all give me energy to go out there and do it.”
Becher’s performance on the mound continued a stellar showing in 2016 for the recent Soldotna High graduate, who has thrown three no-hitters spanning the high school and Legion seasons. The scary thing is, Becher said he was operating at “about 90 percent” Thursday, and Quelland said he believes Becher still has room to improve.
“It’s like tuning in an AM radio station,” Quelland said. “It’s about finding that perfect frequency.”
The Twins knocked out eight hits to West’s two, and the Eagles committed three errors, while the Twins stayed mistake free.
Twins left fielder Calvin Hills opened the scoring in the second inning with an RBI single sent just inside the left field line, scoring pinch runner Covey, who was running in place of Becher, who led off the inning with a single. Hills led Post 20 at the plate, going 2 for 3.
Becher reached base with a leadoff hit by pitch in the fourth inning, which allowed Hills to reach on fielder’s choice. Mathew Daugherty brought Hills home on an RBI grounder, and JJ Sonnen hit into fielder’s choice to score Mason Prior for a 3-0 lead.
Cody Quelland’s single to left field scored both Daugherty and Gavin Petterson for a 5-0 advantage, which set up Steffensen for his big triple. Josh Darrow notched a sacrifice grounder to push the lead to 8-0 before West pitcher Sam Joling ended the inning with a strikeout. Joling finished with five innings of work, giving up seven hits and two walks while striking out two.
Petterson brought in another Twins run in the bottom of the fifth on a sacrifice fly to center field, and a run by Quelland on a passed ball ended the game with the 10-run rule in the bottom of the sixth.
The Twins will face Fairbanks Post 11 today at 6:30 p.m. in Anchorage.
Editor’s note: This story corrects the location of today’s game against Fairbanks.