After loading the bases with no outs in the ninth inning in a tie game and failing to score, the Peninsula Oilers pushed a run across in the exact same situation in the 10th inning to defeat the Mat-Su Miners 3-2 on Tuesday at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai.
The victory completed a four-game sweep of the Miners. It also capped a season-opening Alaska Baseball League home stand in which the Oilers went 7-1 to move into first place. Mat-Su fell to 0-5 in the league.
"It was nice to see the team jell in that situation," Oilers head coach John Stevens said.
In the ninth inning, the Oilers loaded the bases when Josh Miller led off with a bunt single, then reliever Jay Calhoun hit Jeff Yamaguchi and Trey Richardson. Miners head coach Chris Gordon was ejected for arguing that Yamaguchi did not get hit by a pitch.
Calhoun then bore down, getting Jimmie Koch to ground to the pitcher, and cutting down the runner at home. Calhoun then struck out Alex Staehely, who had reached base his previous four times up, and retired Oscar Sanay on a grounder back to the pitcher.
After Oilers reliever John Straka pitched a perfect 10th inning that would eventually earn him the win, Stevens called his club together outside the dugout. The head coach said after the game he thought his team was pressing too hard — and swinging too hard — trying to get the winning run across in the ninth inning.
Stevens said he knew Mat-Su, which eventually used seven pitchers in Tuesday's game, was running out of pitching and the Oilers could get a run eventually.
"I told them to settle down and not get caught up in everything that was going on," Stevens said. "I told them to take it a little easier at the plate."
In the marathon game, the Oilers winning rally was started by their marathon man. Riley Heinzer has caught all 10 of the Oilers games so far. He worked the count to 3-1 against reliever Nick Laroy and sent a wicked, slicing liner past first baseman Branden Berry and into the corner for a double.
"I was sitting dead red fastball because I knew he didn't want to walk me," Heinzer said.
Nate Ring then worked the count to full before walking, and the Miners intentionally walked Jake Alvarez to load the bases. The Miners brought in reliever Tanner Anderson, but he walked Josh Miller on five pitches to end the game.
"It was good practice because I know there are going to be tough games down the road for us," Heinzer said. "The guys were really focused in on the field and in the dugout."
Despite falling to 0-5, Gordon saw some things he liked. The Miners pitching, which allowed an average of eight runs in the first three games of the series, was much better Tuesday. The team also showed fight, such as when Will Jamison beat out an infield single in the ninth inning by diving into first base. The squad also stormed out of the dugout to congratulate Calhoun for escaping the ninth-inning jam.
"We competed," Gordon said. "Our guys fought hard. It was a tough game. We didn't get some of the breaks in the last couple of innings that we should have gotten."
The early portion of the game was a pitcher's duel between Miners starter Jake Watts and Oilers starter J.D. Salles. Watts went 4 2-3 innings and gave up seven hits and two earned runs while walking two and striking out six.
Salles went seven innings, throwing 103 pitches. He gave up seven hits and two earned runs while walking one and striking out eight.
"I trust him," Stevens said. "The guys we had last year, I can see if they're doing well, and if they're doing well, I'm going to let them stay in there."
The Oilers took a 1-0 lead in the second when ABL RBI leader Nate Ring doubled home Staehely with two outs.
The Miners grabbed a 2-1 lead in the fifth on RBI singles by Bill Cullen and Erik Harbutz. The Oilers came back to tie the game at 2 in the bottom of the fifth. Watts left with runners on first and second with two outs, but reliever Jimmy Reed walked Koch and Staehely to tie the game.
Logan McAnallen got the Oilers to extra innings by pitching two scoreless frames.
Richardson led the Oilers 11-hit attack by going 3 for 4, while Miller and Staehely added two hits. The Miners had eight hits, with Harbutz, Berry and Jamison all collecting two hits.
The Oilers now go on the road for three games, starting with a 7 p.m. game tonight against the Anchorage Glacier Pilots at Mulcahy Stadium. Brandon Kizer gets the start for the Oilers.
Oilers 3, Miners 2, 10 inn.
Knight 2b5000Alvrz 2b5110
Talady 3b5010Ymgchi 3b3000
Berry 1b4020Rchrdsn 1b4030
Freemn dh4000Koch rf4010
Torres c4000Sthely ss4121
Jamisn lf4120Sanay dh4000
Culln cf3111Hein pr0100
E — Harbutz 2, Torres 2, Alvarez, Ring, McAnallen. DP — Miners 1, Oilers 1. LOB — Miners 7, Oilers 17. 2B — Berry, Heinzer, Ring. SB — Jamison, Miller, Cullen 2, Staehely 2, Ring. CS — Harbutz, Jamison 2, Alvarez.
Reed pitched to two batters in the fifth. Laroy pitched to three batters in the 10th. Anderson pitcher to one batter in the 10th.
WP — Laroy. HP — by Calhoun (Yamaguchi, Richardson). T — 3:00.