While the Everett (Wash.) Merchants were scoring four runs in the first two innings of Sunday's game at Coral Seymour Memorial Park, the Peninsula Oilers were striking out in four of their first six at-bats.
The Oilers never recovered, losing a nonleague game 6-2 to the Merchants. The loss is the fourth in a row for the Oilers and drops them to 9-5 overall. It's also just the second loss in 11 home games for Peninsula.
Everett improved to 4-3 on its trip through Alaska.
"If you look at the big leagues, a lot of games are won and lost in the first three innings," Oilers head assistant Kyle Richardson said. "You've got to be ready to go from the starting gate.
"We sleptwalked our way through the first two innings. I don't want to take anything away from them, though. They beat us today."
The game matched two top pitchers. Oilers starter Jon Maciel had not given up an earned run heading into this game. Alex Shaffer is the Merchants' top starter and already had one victory in Alaska over the Anchorage Bucs.
Maciel had a rough outing from the get-go. In the first inning, he gave up three hits. Those hits and a costly error from shortstop Alex Staehely led to a 2-0 lead after a half inning.
In the top of the second, the Merchants rallied for two more off Maciel after two were out. Keegan Acker singled, David Amberson walked and Ryan Sells lashed a double to score both.
Sells, who would finish 3 for 5 with four RBI and come up a home run short of the cycle, also touched up Maciel for an RBI single in the fourth. Maciel lasted four innings and gave up eight hits and five runs — four earned — in taking the loss.
"I talked to him in the dugout and he just said he made a few mistakes," Richardson said. "They hit those mistakes. Maciel will be fine. He's a great pitcher."
So is Shaffer, but unlike Maciel, Shaffer had all his stuff working Sunday.
A bout with wildness and a costly error by Sells at third base led to an unearned run in the third, but other than that Shaffer threw 1-2-3 innings through the sixth and carried a no-hitter into the seventh.
Shaffer, who attended Everett Community College last season but is on his way to University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio for next season, said his fastball felt live, and he also said he had control of his changeup and slider.
Richardson said Shaffer was doing a great job locating his fastball and taking advantage of the Oilers' aggressiveness at the plate. All nine of Shaffer's strikeouts came in the first five innings.
Merchants head coach Harold Pyatte said another factor in Shaffer's dominance was the cold and damp weather at Seymour Park. The coach said the wet air gave Shaffer's breaking stuff more bite.
The Oilers finally got to Shaffer in the seventh, when Nate Ring doubled with one out, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a grounder by Oscar Sanay. Shaffer would pitch seven innings and give up just one hit and two runs — one earned.
"It's in the back of your head, but I didn't think about it too much," Shaffer said of the no-hitter. "The main thing is getting the win."
The Merchants were able to hold on for that win in the ninth. Ty Holm came on in relief with a 6-2 lead, but eventually loaded the bases with one out. He then struck out Josh Miller.
Pyatte said the team was running out of pitching so it called on Holm, who is normally an outfielder, to start the ninth.
With the tying run at the plate and two outs, Pyatte brought in right fielder Craig Monson to face Jordan Hein. Pyatte said Monson regularly pitches for the team. The lefty got left-hander Jordan Hein to ground out to end the game.
"I was happy they were able to make something happen in the ninth inning," Richardson said. "These guys haven't given up all year."
The Merchants had 12 hits to the Oilers' three. Acker and Amberson, the top two hitters in the order, each had two hits and two runs. Monson added a pair of hits for Everett.
The Oilers face the Merchants at 7 p.m. tonight at Seymour Park. J.D. Salles will take the ball for the Oilers and attempt to break the losing streak.
Merchants 6, Oilers 2
Ackr 2b5220Hein rf4010
Ambrsn cf3220Sthly ss3000
Sells 3b5134Ymgchi 3b3000
Gates lf5011Rchrdsn 1b4000
Flknga dh4010Heinzr c4010
Munson rf5020Ring cf3110
Parris 1b5000Alvarez 2b2000
Potts ss4000Sanay 2b2001
Yeo c4110Koch dh2000
E — Sells, Staehely, Sanay. LOB — Merchants 10, Oilers 8. 2B — Sells, Folkinga, Amberson, Ring. 3B — Sells. SB — Amberson. SH — Amberson.
WP – Shaffer, Holm, McAnallen. PB — Heinzer. T — 2:30.