A few more showings like this from the Peninsula Oilers, and the groundskeepers at Coral Seymour Memorial Park won’t have to cut the infield grass.
The Oilers pitchers could do the job themselves if they keep inducing ground balls like they did Tuesday.
Five Peninsula pitchers combined to force 17 ground-ball outs in a 3-0 win over the San Diego Waves in nonleage action.
Gabriel Asakura pitched five innings, and Mark Winkelman, Cameron McVey, Reese McGraw and Tyler Blum pitched an inning apiece as the Oilers’ staff faced just four batters over the minimum in a game that lasted 1 hour, 44 minutes.
Peninsula, which improved to 2-2 overall, hosts San Diego at 7 p.m. today at Seymour Park.
“Gabe came out in attack mode and was just real aggressive,” Oilers coach Dennis Machado said. “The guys who followed were real aggressive. That’s what makes them so fun to watch.”
Asakura carved through San Diego’s lineup with a combination of breaking balls and low fastballs.
Working the corners of the plate and keeping the ball thigh-high and below, Asakura notched three strikeouts, forced 12 out on grounders and didn’t allow a runner past second base. The Waves finished the game with five hits.
A native of Brazil, Asakura threw 56 pitches in what was his first action of the year. He hadn’t thrown in a live game since the end of May, he said.
“It feels good, it’s always a pleasure to get on the mound,” he said. “I was waiting for them to prove they could hit my fastball and just keeping the pitches low.”
After walking Alex Harris to open game, Asakura retired nine consecutive batters on two strikeouts and seven ground balls. Chris Lindmark’s bloop single to left broke the streak with one out in the top of the fourth, but the Waves never mounted a serious threat.
The Oilers opened the second inning with three straight hits as Patrick Wisdom singled up the middle and Ryan McChesney doubled to left-center field off Waves starter and loser Lawrence Chew, who lasted six innings and gave up six hits.
Troy Channing, who on Saturday hit a home run in a 10-6 win over the Lake Erie (Mich.) Monarchs, then roped a double down the left field line, scoring Wisdom and McChesney.
McChesney hit his second home run of the season to lead off the top of the seventh, sending a blast over the wall in right field.
He finished 2 for 3 with two RBIs, and that was more than enough for the Oilers pitchers.
“We want them to be aggressive and force the other team to put the ball in play,” Machado said of the pitching staff, which has three more nonleague games to get polished before the league opener on Sunday. “It’s a work in progress, so we’ll see as we go.”
Winkelman, McVey, McGraw and Blum were efficient in brief appearances. Only Blum, who allowed two base runners in the top of the ninth, got into any kind of trouble.
Winkelman and McGraw retired each of the three batters they faced, while McVey notched two strikeouts while allowing one hit.
San Diego struck out eight times, and only two outs came on fly balls. The rest were on the ground, with shortstop Mike Miller and second baseman Chris Mallory combining for 11 putouts.
“My fastball was sinking a little bit and I felt real good,” Asakura said of getting all the grounders.
Peninsula missed a chance at adding an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth when Chris Mallory was thrown out trying to score from second on a single to left off the bat of Wisdom.
It didn’t matter.
Blum struck out Manny Cordiero with runners on first and second in the top of the ninth to end the game.
The Oilers managed eight hits, including three doubles, on the heels of a 10-run effort in a win over the Monarchs on Saturday, the squad’s first victory this season.
Machado expects the bats to get hotter in the games to come.
“You’re going to see the guys’ timing get better,” he said. “That just comes with seeing live pitching.”