With a full college season under their belts, the Peninsula Oilers players showed they are already in midseason form Sunday at a sunny and warm Coral Seymour Memorial Park.
As for those who spent the winter (and “spring”) in the Great White North? It was nice to have Sunday’s 8-0 Oilers victory against the All-Stars from the 10-team Anchorage Adult Baseball League to get up to speed.
The field at Seymour Park is, thanks to marathon sprinkling sessions, as splendid and green as ever.
But whether it was Scoop the mascot falling twice as he took the field for his debut, veteran Oilers play-by-play man Dan Gensel quickly catching himself after welcoming listeners back to a “high school” broadcast or a rough start by the All-Stars in the first inning, many were still getting used to this sunny and nearly 70 stuff.
Oilers fans looking for a harbinger for the team’s season quickly got one when the All-Stars went down 1-2-3 in the first and then Taylor Tempel singled on the first pitch he saw from All-Stars pitcher Mike Smith.
Of course, that happened to be the first pitch Smith has thrown in a game this year.
Smith is a 1999 graduate of Skyview High School and a former standout for the Post 20 Twins. The 32-year-old went on to pitch for Eastern Arizona College and then New Mexico State. He now works for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage in Soldotna.
Smith said he was able to play catch a few times before Sunday’s start, but he hasn’t gotten any outings in with the Southcentral Titans — the team he has helped to league titles the last three years.
Making matters more interesting was that the planned catcher for Smith was late for the game due to traffic. That threw 2007 Soldotna High School graduate Ben Stalker behind the dish.
“I coached him before with the Twins,” Smith said. “I had never seen him behind the plate.
“So we had a pitcher who hadn’t pitched and a catcher who doesn’t play catcher. And we were playing against the Oilers. I thought to myself, ‘This is going to be interesting.’”
The bottom of the first was interesting, as the Oilers scored three runs, two of which came mostly because Stalker was having trouble catching Smith’s stuff.
“I caught two or three games last season, but not with a pitcher like Mike,” Stalker said. “I was using gear I was not familiar with. I couldn’t see out of the catcher’s mask.”
Stalker said that made catching fastballs particularly difficult.
“I’d call for a fastball, but he could throw his four-seamer or his two-seamer, and his two-seamer has a lot of movement,” he said.
Stalker was able to shed the tools of ignorance in the third inning, when Hugo Delacruz arrived at the ballpark. Smith lasted four innings and gave up three hits and four runs — two earned.
Even though he tweaked his ankle covering first and was struck in the leg by a come-backer, he’s hopeful he can pitch when the All-Stars face the Oilers again next weekend.
“I’d just like to thank the Oilers for doing this,” Smith said. “It’s amazing to be out on this field again. This field has a lot of memories.”
Smith said it’s also nice for his family to be able to watch him pitch. The other local player to patrol Seymour Park again Sunday was right fielder Russell Hepner.
“I wish I could have played outfield,” Stalker said. “This is the nicest field in the state. You don’t have to watch where you are stepping.”
Oilers coach Kyle Richardson also was thankful the All-Stars agreed to pay the gas money to come down to the Peninsula even though the Anchorage league teams have played just three or four games so far this year.
“It was good to get the rust off,” Richardson said. “Some of these guys haven’t played in a few weeks.”
Richardson said that Smith and All-Stars reliever Joshua Simmons are quality pitchers who tested his hitters.
The Oilers had eight hits, just two for extra bases — and one of those was a pop-up that should have been caught.
At the same time, that pop-up that turned into the double for Turner Clouse was a highlight for Richardson.
“He ran it out on that pop-up and got to second base,” Richardson said. “They were playing hard.”
Andre Mercurio and Clouse led the Oilers with two hits apiece.
Oilers pitchers got a chance to try out the mound at their home park, but were not threatened by the All-Stars’ sticks. Logan McAnallen, GJ Strauss, Spencer Mochal, A.J. Quintero and Colby Blueberg combined to limit the All-Stars to one hit.
“I actually liked facing those pitchers because it was challenging,” Stalker said. “Except for Mike and a few other pitchers in our league, nobody is that challenging.”
The Oilers are off today before hosting the San Francisco Seals in 7 p.m. nonleague games on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
The All-Stars come back for a 7 p.m. game Saturday and 2 p.m. game Sunday.
Oilers 8, All-Stars 0
AS AB R H BI Oilers AB R H BI
Mrtn cf 4 0 0 0 Tmpl lf 3 1 1 0
Hpnr rf 3 0 0 0 Rmrz lf 2 1 0 0
Lee ss 4 0 0 0 Mrcrio cf 3 1 2 1
Smmns 3b 3 0 1 0 Snbnd dh 4 1 1 1
Eslw lf 3 0 0 0 Dbsn 1b 4 0 0 1
Stlkr c 1 0 0 0 Greer 2b 5 1 0 0
Vlrio ph 1 0 0 0 Clse rf 4 1 2 0
Smole 2b 3 0 0 0 Hlms 3b 4 0 0 0
McBrde 1b 3 0 0 0 Wlnd c 1 2 1 1
Stphns dh 0 0 0 0 Hunt ss 3 0 1 0
DeLaCz c 2 0 0 0 xxxx xx xx xx xx
Totals 27 0 1 0 Totals 33 8 8 5
AS 000 000 000 —0
Oilers 300 102 200 —8
LOB — All-Stars 3, Oilers 9. 2B — Clouse 2. SF — Dobson. SB — Tempel, Mercurio 2, Wieland. CS — Stalker.
IP H R ER BB SO
Smith, L 4 3 4 2 2 3
Simmons 4 5 4 3 1 3
McAnallen, W 4 0 0 0 1 7
Strauss 2 0 0 0 1 3
Mochal 1 1 0 0 1 0
Quintero 1 0 0 0 0 2
Blueberg 1 0 0 0 0 0