Mike Wieland hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the 11th inning that allowed the Peninsula Oilers to score a thrilling 3-2 victory over the Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks on Tuesday evening at Coral Seymour Memorial Park.
The win was also important in the Alaska Baseball League standings, as it closed the gap the Oilers (14-12) trail by to 2 1-2 games behind the league-leading Panners. The loss left the Goldpanners (16-9) in a tie atop the standings with the Mat-Su Miners (18-11), who beat the Chugiak Chinooks 7-4 on Tuesday to win their fifth straight. The Goldpanners are currently on a three-game slide.
As far as Tuesday’s game, the last three innings ended up providing all the action, after a 1-0 Oilers lead that lasted nearly a full eight innings was erased by a two-RBI single from the Goldpanners’ David Fletcher in the top of the ninth inning that scored Chance Abrath and Casey Munoz, giving the Panners a 2-1 lead.
In the bottom of the ninth, with two outs on the board, Dillon Dobson hit the ball to left field, narrowly making it to third base for the triple. After a walk from Wieland, Kyle Hunt stepped up to home plate and reached on an error that scored the game-tying run from Dobson. Hunt’s batted ball down the first-base line would have usually been an easy out, but the ball took a miraculous bounce up into the air and over the first basemen’s head.
Fast forward to the 11th inning, where Michael Hoo hit a leadoff single, eventually leaving Wieland with an opportunity to knock in the winning run. Wieland smacked the pitch down the left-field line, which brought Hoo in to score, and was followed by the Oilers dugout rushing the field.
“I’m just trying to be confident at the plate, hit a good pitch that I can hit, and put a good swing on it and help our team get the win,” Wieland said. “It’s a dire situation, and real hard to approach that. But, the game pays you back sometimes, and it paid us back today and we got the W.”
Wieland hit 2 for 4 with one RBI. Teammate Jake Alvarez also had a good day, hitting two doubles and scoring a run.
G.J. Strauss pitched the first eight innings for the Oilers, allowing only two hits and getting six strikeouts.
“I felt good, I was able to get a lot of ground balls, the defense played well and helped me out, I felt so good out there,” Strauss said. “I was able to keep my fastball down, and get a little run to it, and when I was ahead my split and curveball I was able to pull them out and keep them off balance.”
The Oilers faced a great opportunity to score an insurance run in the sixth inning, as Alvarez was ready at third base with no outs, but the next three batters all struck out, which had Oilers coach Kyle Richardson a little nervous.
“I was still frustrated from that, and in the ninth inning we started to blow it,” Richardson said. “I didn’t really go through an emotional roller coaster at all. I mean, I didn’t feel comfortable with a one-run lead against them at all, and when that guy hit that leadoff double it just kind of solidified my feelings on that.”
At the top of the ninth, Oilers coach Kyle Richarson put Brody Greer on the mound, and it was Greer that allowed the two runs.
“Brody’s our closer, and he’s come in to pitch as a closer before, but it’s our fault,” Richardson said. “We haven’t gotten him into a game in over a week, so when we brought him in we were thinking we should have someone warming up since he hasn’t thrown in a while. He came in and threw strike one, and the guy got him on a fastball, and when he walked the next guy, you just feel like there’s a lot of pressure on the line and just get him out of there unscathed right now and hope that Coates can close him out.”
Michael Coates relieved Greer in the ninth inning, keeping the rest of the runners from home plate, but it was Wieland that had an impressive two-out sequence to end the inning. With only one out, Wieland — the catcher — was able to tag one runner at home, then threw the ball to Alvarez at second base for an attempted out, but when that failed, Alvarez winged the ball right back to Wieland for the third out.
Richardson also mentioned that the Oilers coaching staff is trying to keep their pitchers fresh for this weekend’s showcase games in Anchorage.
“We’re trying to keep everybody fresh for that, and that’s the problem,” he said. “We’re trying to keep these guys fresh for the scouts, but at the same time we need to win these games. I mean, that stuff comes secondary to winning right now. These games are huge, we have to win them.
“Some guys don’t mind being a little burnt, and some want to be fresh, so we’re taking that information right now and using it.”
If the Oilers can win this four-game series with the Goldpanners, they stand a much better chance of winning the ABL pennant this season. The Oilers have three more games with the Goldpanners in the next two days, starting with a doubleheader today at 5 p.m.
Oilers 3, Panners 2, 11 inn.
Panners AB R H BI Oilers AB R H BI
Ftcr ss 5 0 1 2 Oo-Br 5 0 0 0
Cy-Lb lf 3 0 1 0 Avrz 2b 5 1 2 0
Ewds 2b 4 0 0 0 Snbd dh 5 0 0 0
Rbwz 1b 3 0 1 0 Rmrz rf 5 0 1 1
Ctlo cf 4 0 0 0 Clse cf 3 0 1 0
Mdws dh 4 0 0 0 Tmpl cf 2 0 0 0
Abth 3b 4 1 2 0 Hoo 3B 5 1 1 0
Snto c 2 0 0 0 Dbson 1b 4 1 2 0
Mnz pr 0 1 0 0 Wlnd c 4 0 2 1
Hrtn c 1 0 0 0 Hunt ss 3 0 0 0
Rgnr rf 3 0 0 0 ---- -- -- -- --
Totals 33 2 5 2 Totals 41 3 9 2
Panners 000 000 002 00 —2
Oilers 100 000 001 00 —3
2B — Abrath, Alvarez, Dobson. 3B — Dobson. SH – Reigner, Dobson. SB — Fletcher, Cawley-Lamb, Catalano. CS — Cawley-Lamb, Edwards. E — Rubanowitz, Abrath, Hunt. LOB — Panners 2, Oilers 10. DP — Oilers 2.
IP H R ER BB SO
Bennett 3 3 1 1 0 2
Capistran 3 2-3 3 0 0 1 3
Milke 1 1-3 0 0 0 0 2
Sprague 1 1 1 0 1 1
Buehler, L 1 1-3 2 1 1 0 1
Strauss 8 2 0 0 1 6
Greer 0 1 2 2 1 0
Coates 2 2 0 0 0 1
Silva, W 1 0 0 0 0 2
WP — Capistran. HP — by Coates (Rubanowitz).