It was a sunny Sunday afternoon, with temperatures shooting over 70 degrees. Kicking-back weather.
The opponent for the Peninsula Oilers at Coral Seymour Memorial Park was the Anchorage Adult Baseball League All-Stars, a team the Oilers had handled with ease on two previous occasions, and handled once again Sunday by a tally of 18-3.
Off days beckoned today and Tuesday for the Oilers, with all a summer on the Kenai Peninsula has to offer.
Time to relax? Time to take it a little easy?
Oilers starter A.J. Quintero answered that question quickly in the top of the first inning.
With two away, All-Stars shortstop Min Lee hit a blooper over the left shoulder of Quintero and almost to the edge of the infield grass.
Any pitcher would have been within his rights to let the ball drop. Let the infielders deal with it.
Not Quintero. He spun and laid out for the ball, following the ball over his shoulder and catching it at full extension.
“I used to be a shortstop,” said Quintero, who also made a dandy barehanded play on a nubber by Josh Desmarais in the second. “I take a lot of pride in fielding my position. They say pitchers aren’t athletes, but I like to use the skills I got as a shortstop.”
It’s that kind of effort, as much as the hot hitting and dominant pitching the Oilers have shown of late, that has Oilers head coach Kyle Richardson feeling good heading into the Oilers’ Alaska Baseball League opener Wednesday at 7 p.m. against the Mat-Su Miners at Seymour Park.
“It’s something I’ve noticed since these guys have gotten here,” Richardson said. “They play hard. They’re not up here to screw around.”
Richardson said Quintero was sold to him as a player who gives a lot of effort, and he fit that bill Sunday.
Quintero will be a senior at Cal State Monterey Bay next season. He prefers being a starter, but his college squad needed him in the closer role this season.
In his first start of the year for the Oilers, he pitched three scoreless innings, giving up one hit. Even with those goose eggs and the two dazzling plays, he wasn’t satisfied.
“I felt I could have executed a little better,” he said. “My location could have been a little better.”
Quintero said that his goal this season is to stop nibbling at the plate so much and let his defense work behind him. Nibbling and going for strikeouts works for a closer, but not for a starter trying to keep his pitch count down.
After Quintero exited, the Oilers used six pitchers for one inning apiece to close out the contest. Travis Barnes, Michael Coates, GJ Strauss, Turner Clouse and Brody Greer pitched scoreless frames.
Coates, Strauss, Clouse and Greer were particularly dominant, getting 10 of the last 12 outs on strikeouts.
In the fourth inning, the All-Stars got to Spencer Mochal for three runs, just one earned. It was the first time the All-Stars scored in three games against the Oilers.
The big hit in the inning was an RBI single from 2007 Soldotna High School graduate Ben Stalker.
On offense, the Oilers made things tough for All-Stars starter Mike Smith, a 1999 graduate of Skyview High School.
Peninsula got 13 runs and 13 hits in six innings against Smith. Eight of those runs were earned. Smith walked five and struck out six.
Richardson said those strikeouts show that the Oilers were doing some damage against quality pitching.
“Mike is a good pitcher,” Richardson said. “He’s equivalent to an average college arm now, and when he played he was better than that.”
Russell Hepner, another local product, pitched the last two innings and yielded five runs on six hits.
Kyle Hunt led the Oilers, going 4 for 5 with a run and two RBIs. AJ Ramirez was 3 for 5 with four RBIs and a run.
Taylor Tempel homered for the Oilers, and was one of six players to record two hits. The others were Michael Hoo, Mike Wieland, Adam Sonabend, Clouse and Noah Holmes. Wieland also reached on a walk and by getting hit twice, and scored five times.
The rest of the Oilers’ games this season will be against ABL opponents.
“Overall, I think we have a pretty good team,” Quintero said. “We have a shot at winning this.”
Oilers 18, All-Stars 3
AS AB R H BI Oilers AB R H BI
Bahn lf 4 0 0 0 Tmpl cf 6 2 2 2
Enslw 2b 4 1 2 0 Hoo 3b 5 2 2 0
Lee 3b 3 0 0 0 Wlnd c 3 5 2 2
Hpnr p 1 0 0 0 Snbnd 1b 5 2 2 1
Lnrgn rf 4 1 1 0 Clse lf 4 2 2 0
Dsms 1b 3 1 0 0 Hunt dh 5 1 4 2
Stlkr cf 4 0 1 1 Dbsn 3b 0 0 0 1
Dlcrz c 3 0 0 1 Hlms 2b 5 2 2 0
Smle dh 3 0 0 0 Rmrz rf 5 1 3 4
Vsco ss 3 0 0 0 Alvrz ss 5 1 0 1
Totals 32 3 4 2 Totals 43 18 19 13
All-Stars 000 300 000 —3
Oilers 614 020 23X —19
E — Viscaro, Smith, Ramirez, Holmes, Hoo. DP — Oilers 2. LOB — All-Stars 5, Oilers 13. 2B — Hoo, Hunt. 3B — Wieland, Hoo. HR — Tempel. SF — Hunt, Alvarez.
IP H R ER BB SO
Smith, L 6 13 13 8 5 6
Hepner 2 6 5 5 1 0
Quintero, W 3 1 0 0 0 2
Mochal 1 2 3 1 1 3
Barnes 1 1 0 0 0 0
Coates 1 0 0 0 0 2
Strauss 1 0 0 0 0 2
Clouse 1 0 0 0 0 3
Greer 1 0 0 0 0 3
WP — Smith 3, Strauss. PB — Delacruz 3. HP — by Smith (Wieland 2, Clouse, Sonabend); by Mochal (Delacruz), by Strauss (Smole).