By JEFF HELMINIAK
Coming back from a deficit twice in an Alaska Baseball League game is not easy. It took nearly everybody on the Peninsula Oilers team to accomplish multiple comebacks Sunday.
The Oilers used five pitchers and had 13 hits — getting a base knock from every spot in the lineup — to earn an 8-5 victory over the Mat-Su Miners at a sun-splashed Coral Seymour Memorial Park.
The win moves the Oilers to 5-1 in ABL play, good for second place. The Chugiak Chinooks are in first place with a 3-0 record. The Miners are now 0-3.
The Oilers meet the Miners again today at 7 p.m. in the third game of a four-game series.
“Everybody contributed,” Oilers head coach John Stevens said. “We got down early, but nobody panicked. It was just nice to see everybody stay calm.
“It was a big win. It’s tough to get down and come back in this league, but now these guys have the confidence they can do that.”
The Miners got off to a quick start in the first three innings, but better execution could have made that start quicker.
Nash Knight walked off Oilers starter Chris Kono to start the game, then Erik Harbutz drove the ball over center fielder Nate Ring. Knight scored on the play, but Harbutz was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a triple, even though there was nobody out. Despite two more singles in the inning, the Miners would not get another run.
In the second, the Miners got the leadoff batter on, but Bill Cullen hurt that rally by popping up a sacrifice bunt attempt.
The Oilers grabbed a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the second when Jon Maciel, who is normally a pitcher, and Riley Heinzer both doubled in runs.
The Miners came right back in the third. Branden Berry doubled in a run, then Clint Freeman put the Miners up 3-2 with a sacrifice fly, chasing Kono.
Reliever Logan McAnallen came in with one out and Berry on third. The Miners attempted a suicide squeeze. Berry would have scored easily if PJ Torres could have gotten the bunt down, but Torres pushed the bunt just foul. Torres then grounded to short, and Berry was cut down trying to score.
“Obviously, we didn’t take advantage of all of our opportunities,” Miners head coach Chris Gordon said. “We also need better starting pitching to hold the lead when we do manage to scratch a few runs across.”
The bottom of the third saw Miners starter and loser Andrew McGee exit the game after giving up six earned runs in 2 2-3 innings. Josh Miller started the inning by slipping a ball over the left-field fence on an 0-2 fastball that McGee left up.
“I was protecting, but I wanted to take a pretty good swing,” Miller said. “I wanted to stay aggressive.”
The Oilers then loaded the bases with two outs, chasing McGee. Aaron Luchterhand came in, walked in a run, then gave up a two-RBI double to Ring as the Oilers took a 6-3 lead. Peter Kaplan relieved Luchterhand and got Jake Alvarez to ground out to end the inning.
“We’ve got to find somebody in the bullpen that can come in and get somebody out,” Gordon said. “When the bases are loaded with two outs, we need somebody that can get that last out.”
Stevens gave credit to McAnallen, who also pitched Saturday night, for cooling off the Miners bats. He pitched 2 2-3 innings, giving up three hits and two runs — one earned. McAnallen was credited with the win.
The Oilers head coach said the Miners were pretty dialed in on Kono, and McAnallen coming in and throwing a little harder was enough to slow Mat-Su down.
After McAnallen exited, Kyle Ferramola pitched a scoreless inning, John Straka pitched two scoreless innings and Louis Cohen pitched a perfect ninth to nail down his second save.
The Oilers collected 13 hits, with Alvarez, Miller, Heinzer and Ring all getting two hits. The Oilers also received runs from all but two spots in the lineup, but nobody had more than two hits, two runs or two RBI.
“We’ve got a good team,” Miller said. “Everybody in the lineup was able to contribute. Even Jon Maciel was able to DH and get a double and score a few runs.”
Taladay led the Miners on offense by going 3 for 4 with two runs.
Oilers 8, Miners 5
Knight 2b4100Alvrz 2b5021
Harbtz ss5111Millr lf4121
Talady 3b4230Ymgchi 3b3111
Berry 1b4121Rchrdsn 1b5010
Freemn dh4001Koch rf4110
Torres c4020Sthly ss4110
Culln cf3000Maciel dh2211
Jamisn ph1010Nootbr ph1000
Millr rf3011Hnzr c3122
Boyd lf3000Ring cf3122
E — I. Miller, Richardson, McAnallen, Heinzer. DP — Miners 1, Oilers 1. LOB — Miners 9, Oilers 8. 2B — Harbutz, Berry, Taladay, Maciel, Heinzer, Ring. HR — J. Miller. SF — Freeman, Yamaguchi. SB — Alvarez. CS — Boyd.
McGee, L2 2-376613
McAnallen, W2 2-332112
BK — McGee. T — 2:38.