PALMER — A night after playing a 21-inning, 5.5-hour marathon, the Peninsula Oilers’ road game against the Mat-Su Miners probably felt like a sprint. But in the match that lasted a mere 2 hours and 9 minutes, the Miners were the first out of the gate, and won the race.
Clint Freeman sparked the Miners with a two-run shot in the fourth inning and Jay Calhoun pitched seven innings of four-hit shutout ball to lead the Miners to a 3-0 win over the league-leading Oilers at Hermon Brothers Field in Palmer Thursday night.
“When we get good starting pitching, we’re tough to beat,” Mat-Su assistant coach Joel Pedretti said.
Calhoun, a Dallas Baptist product, worked quickly, fanning two, walking only two and allowing the four hits.
“I can’t say enough about Jay,” Freeman said. “You’re looking at a draft prospect.”
Calhoun and Peninsula starter Jordan Mills were locked in a pitcher’s duel. Mills also went seven strong and fanned seven. Mills walked only one batter. He allowed six hits and three runs, but the bulk of that damage came during the Miners’ three-run fourth.
“Jordan pitched a great game,” Oilers head coach John Stevens said. “He got a little bit out of rhythm (in the fourth inning). He threw a good game, but for about a five-minute span he lost his focus. In this game, that can be the difference.”
Stevens said he wasn’t completely disappointed in his team’s performance, considering the Oilers were not even 24 hours removed from a 21-inning game that lasted until 12:30 a.m. Thursday morning. The first pitch against the Glacier Pilots was at 7 p.m. Wednesday night, but it took nearly six hours to decide the game, and the Pilots won 4-3. The Oilers didn’t even hit their hotel room until well after 2 a.m., he said.
“I think we could all use some sleep,” Stevens said. “We’ll regroup. Last night was one of the weirdest games I’ve ever seen.”
The Oilers finished with six hits Thursday against the Miners.
“We played well today. We just didn’t get some key hits we needed to,” Stevens said. “We hit the ball hard several times. The guys have to understand any team in this league can beat any team in this league.”
Freeman proved to be big for the Miners at the plate and on the mound. The two-way standout from East Tennessee State provided the bulk of the Miners’ offense with the two-run home run in the fourth, and closed the game on the mound.
“What more can you ask out of him?” Pedretti said. “That home run was a no-doubter, and to come in and really solidify the back of our bullpen, that was huge for him.”
With the Miners leading 1-0 in the fourth, Freeman sent a shot over the right-field fence to push his team’s advantage to three runs. Freeman said he has changed his approach at the plate, and that helped him have success.
Miners first baseman Branden Berry also scored on the Freeman dinger. Berry also drove in Mat-Su’s first run.
Earlier in the inning, infielder Chris Taladay drew a two-out walk for the Miners. With Taladay on first, Berry smacked a ball down the left-field line. Berry’s hit found its way to the wall in the left field corner, allowing Taladay to score from first.
“He was running hard the whole way,” said Pedretti, who also served as Mat-Su’s third base coach for the night. “He was waiting to see what I was going to do. I wanted to see how the left fielder would play it. As soon as I saw that left fielder run into the wall a little and not come up with the ball clean, I knew we had a shot at scoring. That was big.”
With the Miners three-run fourth, Calhoun, Freeman and Jimmy Reed combined to pitch the shutout. Freeman allowed two hits and fanned two over 1 2-3 innings. He also earned the save.
Reed retired the lone batter he faced.
The Miners improved to 2-5 with the win, and combined with a 6-1 win over the Anchorage Bucs on Wednesday, Mat-Su has its first winning streak since the first week of the season. The league-leading Oilers dropped to 7-3 with the loss.
The Miners travel to Anchorage tonight to face the Glacier Pilots at 7 p.m. at Mulcahy Stadium. The Oilers meet the Chugiak Chinooks at 7 p.m. in Chugiak.
Miners 3, Oilers 0
Ring cf4010Knight 2b3010
Alvrz 3b4010Torres dh3000
Ymghci 1b4000Jamisn rf0000
Koch dh4010Tldy 3b3110
Rchrdsn dh0000Berry 1b4111
Millr lf3000Freemn p3112
Sthly ss3010Culln cf3000
Sanay 2b4010Sagdal ss3000
Heinzr c3010Arens c3000
Mrtnz c0000Boyd lf3020
E — Sanay. LOB — Oilers 7, Miners 4. 2B — Knight, Berry. HR — Freeman. SH — Jamison. SB — Sanay, Boyd. CS — Boyd.
Freeman, S1 2-320012
WP — Mills. T — 2:10.