First, it looked as if this game could be won by the hitters.
Then, the Peninsula Oilers' pitchers took over - and now there's a tie atop the Alaska Baseball League standings.
John Maciel, Brandon Kizer and Tyler Blum supplied a sterling pitching effort Saturday night for the Oilers, who used two early runs, tacked another one on late and survived a ninth-inning rally for a 3-2 victory over the Mat-Su Miners at Coral Seymour Memorial Park.
Peninsula improves to 17-9 overall and 10-6 in the ABL, moving into a tie for first with Mat-Su (12-8 ABL).
The squads continue a four-game set at 1 p.m. today at Seymour Park.
"Hopefully, this gives us a little push," said Maciel, who allowed one run over 6 1-3 innings, earning the win. "We've just got to take it pitch by pitch, day by day."
Maciel had all his pitches working Saturday in the latest solid effort from the Oilers' staff, which has allowed two earned runs over the past 36 innings.
On a night the teams combined for three runs over the first three innings - a generous amount given how many low-scoring affairs the Oilers have played this season - Maciel worked deliberately.
He struck out six batters, walked three and yielded three hits in keeping his ERA at 0.00 in 19 1-3 innings of league play, improving to 2-0.
The right-hander found a rhythm after allowing his lone run on a Wesley Jones single in the third, mowing through the lineup in a game that lasted just 2 hours, 8 minutes.
"Any time you can work quickly, it keeps the hitters a little off balance and they don't have as much time to collect themselves," Maciel said. "It's kind of a personal thing for me. When I work slow, I start to think about things too much."
Maciel pitched with the lead from the fourth inning on after Mike Miller, who was 2 for 4, ripped a double to the wall in left field to score Nate Ring, giving the Oilers a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the third.
That was all Peninsula would manage against Mat-Su starter and loser Mark Anderson, who scattered nine hits over seven innings, striking out three without walking a batter. He threw 94 pitches and tossed shutout ball over his last four innings.
Brandon Kizer replaced Maciel with one out in the seventh, pitching 1 2-3 shutout innings.
The Oilers added an insurance run in the eighth on a Manny Acosta sacrifice fly to give closer Tyler Blum a two-run cushion entering the ninth.
Blum got into a jam after third baseman Patrick Wisdom committed his second error of the game, fumbling a Jones grounder to lead off the inning.
After a walk and a fielder's choice, Kevin Lum cut the lead in half with a single on an 0-2 count. Blum then got Adam Martin and Ryan Ford to hit into consecutive fielder's choices with two men on, preserving the win.
"I had complete confidence in my guy," Maciel said of Blum, who has been erratic at times. "I knew he was going to get the job done."
Peninsula did a good job at the plate for the second time in as many nights, banging out 11 hits.
Chris Mallory, Troy Channing and Miller each had two hits. Manny Acosta, who is 6 for his last 12, added another.
The squad has 22 hits over the past two games.
"Just trying to hit the ball hard and down the center and making the adjustments," Channing said of the recent success. "That's really what it's all about in baseball - making those adjustments."
Although the Oilers moved into a tie with the Miners atop the standings, coach Dennis Machado didn't give the win any special status.
Not with the squad less than halfway through the league schedule.
"It's no different than any game we've played or will play," Machado said. "It's about the guys showing up ready to play, day in and day out.Saturday
Oilers 3, Miners 2
Oilers AB R H BI Miners AB R H BI
Mllr ss 4 0 2 1 Grlch rf 4 0 0 0
Mllry 2b 4 1 2 0 Frncia lf 3 1 0 0
Wsdm 3b 4 0 1 0 Brnca 3b 4 0 1 0
Chnng 1b 4 1 2 1 Jones cf 4 1 1 1
Rust rf 3 0 1 0 Knlnd 1b 2 0 0 0
Acosta lf 3 0 1 1 Rosso dh 3 0 0 0
McChsn dh 4 0 0 0 Suiter ph 1 0 0 0
Reyes c 3 0 1 0 Lum 2b 4 0 2 1
Ring cf 3 1 1 0 Gymn c 2 0 0 0
---- -- -- -- -- Mrtn c 2 0 0 0
---- -- -- -- -- Ford ss 3 0 0 0
Totals 32 3 11 3 Totals 32 2 4 2
Mat-Su 001 000 001 -2
Peninsula 011 000 01x -3
E - Wisdom 2. LOB - Miners 7, Oilers 7. 2B - Lum, Channing, Rust, Miller. SB - Kneeland, Lum, Miller, Channing, Rust. S - Acosta.
IP H R ER BB SO
Maciel, W 6.1 3 1 1 3 6
Kizer 1.2 0 0 0 0 1
Blum, S 1 1 1 0 1 0
Anderson, L 7 9 2 2 0 3
Brewer 1 2 1 1 1 1
WP - Brewer. PB - Reyes. T - 2:08.