Mistakes cost Oilers in loss

PALMER - Dominick Francia has a modest four runs batted in this season. That's not too bad considering the Mat-Su center fielder is primarily the Miners' leadoff hitter.

But Francia's batting .360, and where he's really dangerous is on the base paths. In 15 games, the Louisiana-Lafayette product already has 18 stolen bases.

On Wednesday, Francia didn't even need his bat to drive in the go-ahead run. Francia used his legs.

In the fourth inning, Francia stole second base, drew a throw from Peninsula Oilers catcher Manny Reyes and Miners infielder Ryan Ford scored easily from third to give Mat-Su the 3-2 lead.

The Miners held on to secure the 4-2 win at Hermon Brothers Field in Palmer and force a tie at the top of the Alaska Baseball League standings.

"Anytime he gets on, he's not staying where he is for very long," Mat-Su head coach Brian Yocke said of Francia.

Francia collected a pair of hits and also scored a run to help the Miners improve to 8-3 in ABL play and move into a first-place tie with the 7-2 Oilers.

The contest didn't mark Mat-Su's best night at the plate -- Francia recorded two of his team's four hits - but the Miners took advantage of a handful of Oilers miscues to earn the win, and avenge Tuesday's 5-0 loss to the Kenai team.

The Oilers finished with five errors in the loss. Four of those came in Mat-Su's two-run first inning.

The Miners put their first four hitters of the game on base, and three of those reached on errors.

"Put the ball in play and good things will happen," Yocke said. "The mind-set going in was put the ball in play, not strikeout, and see what happens. We did a good job of that in the first couple of innings."

Francia reached on an error to lead off the game for the Miners. After stealing second, Francia scored when Tim Zier reached on another Oilers error. That gave the Miners the 1-0 lead.

Stephen Branca drew a walk to put another Mat-Su hitter on, still with no outs. Nick Rosso followed by reaching on another error, which allowed Zier to score and give the Miners the 2-0 advantage.

"We keep doing that throughout a game, and I think we'll start scoring some more," Yocke said.

The Oilers were able to tie the game in the top of the fourth. Patrick Wisdom singled to lead off the inning and Troy Channing drew a walk to put two men on. Tanner Rust drove both runners in with a sharp single down the left-field line to tie the score at 2.

Mat-Su starter David Gibson threw five innings to earn the win and improve to 2-0 this summer. The lefty allowed three hits and two earned runs, while fanning four. Ben Graff, Ryan Dull and Brandon Hedrick combined for four innings of scoreless relief.

"Everyone covered their shift," Yocke said of the Mat-Su staff. "Everyone did a good job of handling the innings they were in charge of."

Oilers starter Justin Haley lasted just two-thirds of an innings. After facing six hitters, walking two, Haley was replaced with Ben Griset, who pitched 3 1-3 and was tagged with the loss.

The Oilers also only had four hits in the game that lasted just about 2 hours and 30 minutes. Wisdom collected a pair of those hits.

The league leaders meet again tonight in the rubber match of the three-game set. First pitch is slated for 7 p.m. at Hermon Brothers Field.

Miners 4, Oilers 2
Oilers AB R H BI Miners AB R H BI
Millr ss 4 0 0 0 Frnca cf 4 1 2 0
Mllry 2b 3 0 0 0 Zier dh 4 1 0 0
Wisdm 1b 4 1 2 0 Branca 3b 3 1 1 0
Chnng dh 3 1 0 0 Rosso rf 3 0 0 1
Krksy lf 2 0 0 0 Knlnd 1b 4 0 0 0
Rust rf 4 0 1 2 Suitr lf 3 0 0 0
MChsny c 2 0 0 0 Lum 2b 4 0 0 0
Reyes c 2 0 0 0 Ford ss 1 1 0 0
Acosta 3b 3 0 0 0 Guymn c 3 0 1 0
Ring cf 3 0 1 0 ---- -- -- -- --
Ymgchi ph 1 0 0 0 ---- -- -- -- --
Totals 31 2 4 2 Totals 29 4 4 1
Peninsula 000 200 000 -2
Mat-Su 200 110 00X -4
E - Wisdom, McChesney, Acosta 2, Salles, Branca, Lum. DP - Oilers 1, Miners 1. LOB - Oilers 7, Miners 6. SB - Wisdom, Ring, Francia 2, Branca 2, Ford 1. CS - Kirksey.

Haley 2-3 0 2 0 2 0
Griset, L 3 1-3 3 1 1 1 5
Salles 4 1 1 1 1 5
Gibson, W 5 3 2 2 2 4
Graff 1 0 0 0 0 2
Dull 2 1 0 0 0 2
Hedrick, S 1 0 0 0 1 2

WP - Salles, Gibson. HP - by Griset (Ford), by Gibson (Kirksey 2). T - 2:27.


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