A sterling effort from the Peninsula Oilers' pitching staff went for naught in a frustrating loss to the Anchorage Bucs on Friday.
The Bucs scored four runs to break a scoreless tie in the 13th inning and held on for a 4-0 win at Coral Seymour Memorial Park, handing the Oilers their third consecutive setback.
Peninsula holds second place in the ABL at 12-6 overall and 7-4 in the league, trailing the Mat-Su Miners (10-3). The third-place Bucs move to 6-4.
Peninsula hosts Anchorage for the second and final game of the series at 7 p.m. Saturday at Seymour Park.
Oilers coach Dennis Machado was defiant after the loss. He advised that anybody jumping off the bandwagon now shouldn't get back on later. He also said the team would prove the bandwagon jumpers wrong at the end of the year.
"Baseball is not so much about what most people think," he said. "It's the little things within the game that most people don't know."
On a night when Peninsula's pitchers were nearly perfect through 12 innings, an error by reliever and loser James Mannara opened the door for Anchorage with the score tied at 0 in the top of the 13th.
After Keenan Cook led off with a single, Landon Anderson sent a sharp bunt back to the mound on an attempted sacrifice. Mannara fielded the ball and swiveled toward second to get the lead runner, but his throw went high into center field.
Reese McGraw replaced Mannara, and Anchorage's Boomer Collins beat out a short bunt to load the bases with no outs.
The Oilers got an out on a fielder's choice at home plate, but McGraw walked Jake Valdez to force in the go-ahead run. Ryan Palermo then hit a one-run single, and Bryan Santy followed with a two-run single.
Anchorage coach Tony Cappuccilli said his squad was fortunate to earn the win, crediting the pitchers on both sides.
"They were incredible - both teams," he said. "Their guys did a great job. Every pitcher that was out there made some huge pitches in big situations."
Peninsula starter Gabriel Asakura went inning for inning with Anchorage starter Jared Lee before Lee was pulled due to an elbow injury in the bottom of the fifth.
Lee finished with three strikeouts and didn't walk a batter, throwing 61 pitches in his first start of the year.
Asakura didn't allow a hit until the fourth and finished with eight strikeouts on 82 pitches - a season high.
The native of Brazil was pulled with two outs in the seventh after he allowed a single and two walks, the only free passes he allowed.
"I got those two outs and felt my arm starting to go down," Asakura said of his third and longest start of the year. "I knew that was it for me tonight."
Mark Winkelman continued his hot pitching in relief. He hasn't allowed a run in eight league appearances, tossing a season-high 3 1-3 innings after replacing Asakura on Friday.
Winkelman, a left-hander, got out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh and kept the game scoreless into the 10th.
Meanwhile, Hunter Lemke was dominant in short notice after he took over for Lee. Lemke went 3 2-3 and struck out five, allowing just one hit.
Conner Kendrick earned the win for the Bucs.
The Oilers never advanced a runner to third base in striking out 12 times -Jeff Yamaguchi accounted for five of the strikeouts - but they threatened in the eighth.
Peninsula got runners on first and second with two outs before first baseman Troy Channing struck out looking on a pitch that caught the outside corner of the plate.
Manny Acosta finished 3 for 5 for Peninsula, which managed nine hits and left 11 on base. Mike Miller was 2-for-6 and reached safely three times, while Patrick Wisdom was 2-for-5.
The Oilers have scored a total of three runs during the three-game losing streak.
Asakura believes the squad will turn things around.
"I know those guys can hit, they are just struggling a little bit right now," he said. "I know my next start they are going to score for me. My job is just to give us a chance to win."