Peninsula Oilers hold off Anchorage Bucs, 3-2

A night after they needed 18 innings and a pair of games to score three runs, the Peninsula Oilers equaled the total in half the time Friday.

The Oilers notched 11 hits from seven different players and held off a late rally in a 3-2 Alaska Baseball League victory over the Anchorage Bucs at Coral Seymour Memorial Park.

Peninsula improves to 16-9 overall and moves into second place in the ABL at 9-6. Anchorage drops to 10-8 in the league, good for third. Both squads are chasing the Mat-Su Miners (12-7).

The Oilers begin a four-game set against the Miners at 7 p.m. Saturday at Seymour Park.

"We were being more patient and taking our walks when they came and being more selective with our pitches," said Tanner Rust, who was 1 for 2 with two runs, two stolen bases and a double. "When we got our pitches, we were able to get on base and get hits."

The game looked all but over in the ninth as Peninsula reliever Reese McGraw retired the first two batters he faced with a three-run lead.

But an error by third baseman Patrick Wisdom on a Tyler Wagner grounder gave the Bucs new life.

After Wagner reached second on indifference, Landon Anderson doubled him home to make it 3-1. Keenan Cook then knuckled a ball into the outfield for another double, scoring Anderson.

With a chance to tie the game, Ryan Palermo sent a sharp grounder to the right of Peninsula second baseman Chris Mallory, who bobbled the ball. Cook took a wide turn around third and Mallory snapped a throw to Wisdom, who tagged Cook before he got back to the base.

With that, the Oilers salvaged a 2-2 tie in the four-game series.

"Reese has been good all year," said Peninsula starter Jordan Mills, who improved to 2-0 in ABL play but watched from the dugout as the game nearly slipped away. "We had two outs and I knew he was going to get the guy out."

The Oilers built a 3-0 lead through four innings, which is all Mills needed after he walked the bases loaded in the first but escaped unscathed, settling down after that.

The 6-foot-5 left-hander lasted 5 2-3 innings, striking out six and walking five in keeping his ERA at 0.00 over 17 innings in league play. He has walked 13 and struck out 17.

On Friday, Mills credited the hitters for giving him a cushion.

"When you get runs, you just feel more comfortable," he said. "It's easier to settle into things. You're not stressed out and tense. It's easier to just go out and pitch and not even think."

Peninsula took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second when it put runners on first and third with no outs on a Rust double and Manny Acosta single.

Manny Reyes then grounded into a double play, but Rust scored from third to give the Oilers a 1-0 lead.

An Acosta RBI single up the middle followed by a Mike Miller RBI double to the wall in left-center field bumped the lead to 3-0 in the fourth, when the Oilers notched three hits in sending seven batters to the plate.

That matched the squad's scoring output from Thursday, when it split a doubleheader with the Bucs. Over the two games, both of which went to extra innings, the Oilers struck out 20 times and went 2 for 17 with runners in scoring position.

It was a different story Friday as the Oilers' one through seven batters each notched at least one hit.

Miller was 3 for 5, while Mallory and Acosta added two hits apiece.

Throw in some aggressive base running by Rust, and the Oilers produced just enough to pull within a game of the Miners for first place.

"As the game progressed, their approach at the plate, as far as getting a pitch to hit, got better," Oilers coach Dennis Machado said. "They were swinging at pitches that were good pitches for them to swing at."

Bucs starter Andrew Walter took the loss and allowed three runs on eight hits over four innings, striking out five and walking two.

Cameron McVey and Tyler Blum combined to toss 2 1-3 shutout innings of relief before McGraw earned the save in pitching the ninth.

Now, the Oilers would move into a tie for first place in the ABL with a win Saturday against the Miners.

"They are in first place and we have played them good a couple times," Rust said. "They are the team to take down right now, so obviously it will be a good game."

 

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