Tense comebacks and rallies are what got the Post 20 Twins into the postseason, and the late-inning theatrics are keeping them going.
A seventh-inning rally sent the Post 20 Twins to a 4-3 quarterfinal victory Thursday evening over the Wasilla Road Warriors and into the Alaska American Legion Baseball State Tournament semifinals.
With long shadows beginning to cast themselves over the artificial turf at Mulcahy Field in Anchorage, the Twins were facing a 3-2 deficit in the bottom of the seventh when JJ Sonnen delivered a leadoff single. Sonnen advanced on a single by Josh Darrow then scored on a right-field grounder by Paul Steffensen to tie the game.
Kenny Griffin smacked the ball down the third-base line to bring in Darrow for the go-ahead run.
“(Wasilla has) been pitching well, and I just tried to put the ball in play,” Sonnen said. “All tournament, we’ve been working on being very selective at the plate.”
The Twins will face Juneau Post 25, walk-off winners over Dimond earlier on Thursday, today at 6:30 p.m.
Darrow also helped in the game-ending double play, which began when Wasilla batter Jeffery Forster grounded out to reliever Calvin Hills, who flicked the ball to Darrow at second who relayed it to Joey Becher at first.
“It’s always a playoff atmosphere with Wasilla,” said Twins coach Robb Quelland. “Every time we play them, whether it’s here, football, basketball or whatever, they come to play.”
The win over Wasilla left the Twins with a 3-0 record over the Road Warriors this summer, although Quelland acknowledged that with the second-chance nature of the tournament bracket, he would not be surprised to see Wasilla make its way back.
“We may face them again, so we have to be ready,” Quelland said.
Twins starter Gavin Petterson pitched into the eighth inning, giving up six hits and four walks while striking out seven. Petterson started slow but steadily worked into a rhythm, pitching six scoreless frames after giving up three runs in the first two innings. Petterson did not allow a hit after the fifth inning, and struck out five in the last five innings.
“I couldn’t tell you,” Petterson replied when asked which pitch was working best for him. “It was honestly an inning-by-inning scenario, the coaches worked with me pitch by pitch.”
Calvin Hills relieved Petterson for the final inning, giving up a single hit in the scoreless appearance to record the save.
Quelland said he did not want to see Petterson work his pitch count as high as he did, but harbored no doubts that the Kenai Central product could handle the job.
“He did a phenomenal job, and it really showed tonight,” Quelland said.
Sonnen led Post 20 from the plate by going 2 for 3 and a run, while Darrow, Steffensen, Griffin, Tyler Covey and Cody Quelland all notched singles.
Wasilla starter Austin Robertson only lasted two innings before being pulled for Hank Boyer, who finished the game with six innings of relief. Robertson gave up a hit and two walks, while Boyer gave up six hits and two runs.
Wasilla started quick with an RBI single from Matt Palmer to grab an early lead, then extended it with a grounder to center field by Koby Burns that plated another run.
A ground-out by Hills scored a run for the Twins in the bottom of the frame, but Wasilla upped its lead again in the top of the second on a ground ball by Ben Werner.
Sonnen brought in a run in the bottom of the second, reaching second on a throwing error by Wasilla second baseman Taylon Ottinger, but the 3-2 score remained intact until the seventh inning magic by the Twins.