BOULDER -- One day made a world of difference for the Longmont Twins. After playing the role of the bug on Thursday, the Twins definitely were the windshield on Friday.
After chewing through seven pitchers in a lopsided loss a day earlier, Dylan Kaczeus pitched a complete game and Taylor Keller launched two home runs during an 11-3 victory over the Grand Junction Gene Taylors on the second day of the Legion A state baseball tournament at Fairview.
It was a welcome turnaround for the Twins, who placed second at the tournament last year. Nobody, however, enjoyed the game more than Kaczeus.
"I'm not going on to play college ball, and I know that every day I pitch could be my last," said Kaczeus, a recent Niwot graduate. "I love baseball and I love being out there. I go out and throw as hard as I can every time, hit my spots and have as much fun as I can while doing my part for the team."
Kaczeus, a 6-foot-4 right-hander, scattered 10 hits and allowed three runs to pick up the win. He only struck out two batters, but he only walked two as well.
"Groundball outs," he explained. "I rely on my guys to help me out back there."
Kaczeus and the Twins live to play another day, with a start time of 11:30 a.m. today. Another victory keeps them in it while a loss ends the summer season.
Manager Dale Nehls knew coming into the tournament that pitching was a question mark, but the bats were not a concern. After quietly working through the rotation in the first three innings, the Twins broke onto the scoreboard in the fourth.
Hunter Pickett led off with a double before Keller lifted his first homer over the fence in left field. That tied the score 2-2, but Longmont was not finished. Joey Cinea hit a two-out single through the right side of the infield, and he moved over to third following Ryan Schram's base hit to shallow right field.
Kaczeus then crushed a double over the head of Grand Junction's slow-reacting center fielder to drive in two more runs and give the Twins a lead they would not lose.
"We are going to put up five, six, eight runs, and we put up another 14 hits," Nehls said. "This team can hit. It's just, can we compete on the mound?"
Longmont all but secured the game with a six-run sixth inning, which saw Kaczeus hit an RBI single, steal a base and score a run. Not to be outdone, Keller cranked his second home run of the day in the bottom of the eighth, giving him a final line of 2-for-5 with three runs scored and four RBIs.
"I was just trying to help my team out and do anything I can to help score runs," he said. "If they go over the fence and we score runs that way, it works. I'd be just as happy with a single."
Brady Delander can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Legion A Twins 11, Gene Taylors 3
Gene Taylors 000 200 01 -- 3 10 1
Twins 000 406 01 -- 11 14 1
W -- Kaczeus. L -- McLaren.