Before flying to the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kan., the Peninsula Oilers walked to a 5-3 victory over the Anchorage Glacier Pilots on Sunday at Mulcahy Stadium in Anchorage.
The Oilers finish their summer in Alaska with a 24-12 record in the Alaska Baseball League and a 31-15 mark overall. Peninsula wins the ABL by three games over the 21-15 Miners. The bottom three in the league are the Glacier Pilots at 17-19, the Anchorage Bucs at 16-20 and the Athletes in Action Fire at 12-24.
The Oilers will open pursuit of their third NBC title Wednesday against the Northwest (Wash.) Honkers. The game time has not yet been announced.
After taking advantage of the 11 walks issued by Pilots pitchers Sunday, the Oilers go into the NBC on a five-game winning streak, which came on the heels of a three-game losing streak.
If the team had a weakness this year, it was finding a closer in the ninth inning that could nail down a victory with a minimum of drama.
That problem was in evidence again Sunday, when the Oilers took a 5-0 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning and handed the ball to Reese McGraw, one of those who has been auditioning for the closer role.
McGraw hit Cael Brockmeyer with a pitch, then walked Aaron Judge. The two then came around to score on a double by Kavin Keyes. Pinch hitter Clay Cederquist then hit another double to score Keyes.
The Pilots then had the tying run at the plate with nobody out, but McGraw bore down. He recorded two fly-outs and a ground-out to preserve the victory.
The rest of the Oilers pitching was solid in holding the Pilots to just three hits.
Jon Maciel got the start and threw three hitless innings. Maciel is expected to start for the Oilers on Wednesday. Sunday would have been his normal day to work in the bullpen between starts.
J.D. Salles then pitched a hitless inning, while Brandon Kizer pitched two hitless innings. Mark Winkelman gave up a hit in two innings before yielding to McGraw.
On offense, the Oilers took advantage of the wildness of Pilots starter Paul Moeller. Moeller walked six in just one inning of work, meaning he gave up three earned runs without yielding a hit.
The Oilers went up 1-0 after the first inning when Mike Miller and Chris Mallory started the game with walks. Each moved up a base on a long fly ball from Patrick Wisdom, then Miller scored on a wild pitch.
In the second inning, the Oilers pushed their lead to 3-0. Greg Anderson, Manny Acosta and Manny Reyes walked to start the inning against Moeller. When Zach Kirksey walked to force in Anderson, Moeller was relieved by Derrick Dingeman.
Miller scored Acosta on a sacrifice fly, but Dingeman did a good job keeping the Pilots in the game, allowing no additional runs in his four innings of work.
The Oilers would add what turned out to be crucial insurance runs in the sixth and seventh innings.
In the sixth, Reyes started the inning with a single against reliever Andy Grunewald. Reyes would score on a double by Mallory.
In the seventh, Ryan McChesney started the inning with a double on reliever Cody Brown. McChesney would score on a single by Anderson.
The Oilers finished the game with seven hits. Miller, at 2 for 3, was the only Peninsula player with more than one hit.