West Anchorage’s Chris Crespo was crisp Thursday afternoon as the Eagles pitcher dominated in an 8-3 victory over the Post 20 Twins at Coral Seymour Memorial Ballpark.
With the win, West secured third place in the 36th annual Bill Miller Wood Bat Tournament. The championship went to the Napoleon (Ohio) River Bandits, who clinched the title with a 4-1 win over the Walla Walla (Washington) Bruins earlier in the day.
In the third-place clash, Crespo pitched a complete seven-inning game and struck out 10 while giving up just three hits and two walks. West assistant coach John Wilson said Crespo managed to find a good groove early with his curveball and rode it out for the win.
“He’s a fine ballplayer,” Wilson said. “He’s been getting better before our eyes.”
Wilson said West needed a win like Thursday’s to stem the bleeding after losing five straight. The Eagles began the season on a hot streak, going 8-1 in a stretch that included a win over perennial powerhouse South Anchorage.
“I felt we needed this win to help our psyche,” Wilson said.
Crespo retired nine of the first 11 batters he faced in the opening three innings before giving up his first hit, a single to lead off the fourth by Paul Steffensen. Steffensen had the best day against the stocky right-hander, hitting 2 for 4. The only other base hit the Twins got came on a two-run single by Calvin Hills in the bottom of the seventh.
“We saw him a couple weeks ago and he pitched a one-hitter,” said Twins coach Robb Quelland. “He’s one of the best pitchers in the state.”
The result was a stark contrast to just two days earlier, when the Twins battered the Eagles on the opening day of the tournament with a 14-6 win. Quelland pointed out that Post 20 is missing several starters, key among those being Jeremy Kupferschmid, Adam Brinster, Mose Hayes and Kenny Griffin, but said the younger players getting experience against good competition is instrumental for the future of the program.
“These types of games affords them time on the field,” Quelland said. “Don’t get me wrong, we don’t like losing, but against a good pitcher, it’s important.”
Porter Fannon started for the Twins but made his exit before he could record an out in the third inning. In over two frames, Fannon gave up four runs (two earned) on seven walks, all while giving up no hits.
Logan Smith and Austin Adlam combined to give up three hits to West in relief, with Smith pitching three shutout innings with two walks, two hits and two strikeouts, and Adlam giving up four runs on five walks, one hit and one strikeout.
West struck first in the top of the second inning, as Fannon forced in a pair of runs on bases-loaded walks, both with two outs on the board. Luis Nunez got the Eagles going with a two-out single, and Sam Lebo and Alex Alvrez both drew walks to juice the bases.
From there, Fannon walked both Mitch Goudreau and Jack Opinsky to spot West a 2-0 lead.
The Eagles tacked on two more runs in the third, as Crespo scored on a wild pitch after taking a leadoff walk from Fanno and stealing second and third base. Lebo smacked a groundball single through the shortstop gap to score Juan Benitez, pushing the lead to 4-0.
The inning ended on a wild double play on a rundown that began with Twins catcher Seth Adkins tagging out Thomas Zettler between third base and home, and continued with a series of throws between the entire Twins infield that eventually ended with Lebo being caught trying to reach third.
The Twins caught another West baserunner stealing in the top of the fourth when pitcher Logan Smith turned around for a toss to second base, where shortstop Cody Quelland was waiting for Joe Mazak, who was on his way from first.
The Eagles scored twice more in the top of the sixth and seventh innings before the Twins attempted one last rally. Hills scored the first run for Post 20 in the sixth on a passed ball, then brought home two runs in the bottom of the seventh on a grounder through the second-base gap, scoring Tanner Ussing and David Belger, but Steffensen popped out to end the game.