The American Legion Twins, the No. 2 seed, defeated Dimond, the No. 7 seed, 6-3 Tuesday in the opening round of the American Legion Alaska State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium in Anchorage.
The Twins advance to play No. 6 seed Service at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday at Mulcahy Stadium. Service upset No. 3 seed South 8-4 on Tuesday. The Twins (29-7 overall) are 1-0 against Service this season and 1-3 against South.
“We looked at the bracket and knew we were on the same side as South and Service,” Twins coach Robb Quelland said. “We had plans for both of them.
“We were actually looking forward to playing South. We still have issues with them taking three of four from us. If we want redemption, we will have to wait for another day.”
The Twins, who won the tournament in 1991, 1995 and 2012, moved to 4-0 against Dimond this season thanks to a four-run rally in the eighth inning to come back from a 3-2 deficit.
Quelland said his team is constructed for the late innings of the nine-inning games at the tournament.
“Some teams are just not used to a nine-inning game,” Quelland said. “We believe the Kenai Post 20 Twins are built for this tournament — the way we’ve set up the pitching staff and defense.”
Post 20 went on top 1-0 in the bottom of the first when Josh Darrow started the inning with a single, stole second and third, and scored on a single by Calvin Hills. In the third, the Twins went up 2-0 when Paul Steffensen walked, stole second, moved to third on an error by the catcher, and scored on a single by Hills.
Twins starter Tyler Covey was able to make that lead stand up until the seventh inning, when Dimond got to him for three runs.
Covey would pitch 6 2-3 innings, giving up seven hits and four earned runs.
Hills came in to quell the Dimond rally in the seventh.
“I’ve got to commend Calvin Hills,” Quelland said. “We put him in, in the worst of situations. He cleaned things up in the top of the seventh inning.”
Then the Twins got to work on Dimond starter Sean Gardeline in the eighth.
Joey Becher and Gavin Petterson started the inning with walks to chase Gardeline.
Jesse Boese came on and found trouble. Becher was balked home and Petterson scored on a grounder by Mason Prior for a 4-3 lead.
Before the inning was done, Prior would score on a single by Darrow and Covey would score on an error by the shortstop for a 6-3 lead.
Becher came on to slam the door shut in the ninth, facing just three batters. Hills ended up pitching 1 1-3 scoreless innings.
The game ended on a rare double play. With a runner on first, Dimond grounded to first baseman Matthew Daugherty, who threw to second for one. When Darrow’s throw back to first was high, catcher Cody Quelland backed up first base and got the runner at second.
“It was one of the best plays of the tournament,” Quelland said.
Hills finished 2 for 5 with two RBIs, while Covey was 2 for 4 and Quelland was 2 for 4.
The Team of Excellence also was announced Monday night.
Becher and Daugherty made the team for starting pitching, while Petterson was honorable mention.
Becher was 5-1 with a 2.88 ERA, 48 strikeouts and a .123 batting average against in 34 1-3 innings.
Daugherty was 4-0 with a 1.61 ERA, 30 strikeouts and a .211 batting average against in 31 1-3 innings.
Hills made it at two positions — relief pitcher and outfield. On the mound, Hills had a win and a save with 12 strikeouts and a 2.19 ERA in 12 innings pitched. At the plate, Hills hit .400 with 24 hits, 16 RBIs, 14 stolen bases and 20 runs.
Steffensen also made it in the outfield. He hit .446 with 26 hits, 33 runs, 26 RBIs, 24 stolen bases and 13 extra-base hits.
Darrow made it on the infield. He hit .522 with 36 hits, 11 extra-base hits, 31 runs, 21 RBIs and 15 stolen bases.
Becher, Daugherty and Petterson were honorable mention on the infield.
Quelland was one of four named Coach of the Year. He guided the team to a 16-2 league mark during the regular season, good for the second seed at the state tournament.
“It shows why we took second in the ranking, with the quality of players we have,” Quelland said. “We even had kids that could have been on the team that we couldn’t even nominate.”