The Peninsula Oilers could not control the fact that the San Francisco Seals arrived in Kenai at 4 a.m. Sunday after flying from Seattle and busing down from Anchorage.
What the Oilers could control is making sure the Seals looked like a team that had traveled all night to make the Oilers’ Sunday home opener at a sun-splashed Coral Seymour Memorial Park.
The Peninsula nine did just that, christening the lush, green turf and roofless grandstand background with a 9-0 victory.
“They had it rough having to play the day after they came in,” Oilers head coach Kyle Richardson said. “I know when our guys came in, I was glad they had a few days to rest.
“I also heard they didn’t have any hot water at the Bingo Hilton.”
The Seals’ bats started hot, but quickly reverted to the water temperature at their lodging.
Ian Horne and Nick Egli had two-out singles in the top of the first inning, but Oilers starter Sean Mason eliminated the threat by striking out Jacob Pavlovsky, and Peninsula pitchers would allow just three base runners the rest of the game.
“One hit a pretty good pitch, and I left the other one up,” Mason said. “I was able to make adjustments and that’s what pitching is all about.”
After giving up those two hits, Mason mixed a fastball, slider and change-up to retire the next 13 batters he faced before he was lifted after the fifth.
Mason said his college team, Appalachian State, didn’t arrive for a game in Arkansas this season until two hours before the first pitch due to getting snowed in, so he knew the Seals could still be dangerous.
“They still looked like good baseball players to me,” he said.
Cody Richey and Jeff Paschke both finished up with two scoreless and hitless innings for the Oilers, who walked just two batters on the day.
“I was worried about them throwing strikes because we had three freshmen out there today,” Richardson said. “They did a great job of throwing strikes.”
Seals coach Jake Gans, whose team fell to 4-5, said his hitters should be better today.
“We’re on a tough road trip,” Gans said. “We had already been on the road for a week before coming up here.”
Seals starter Chris Carroll kept his team in it through four innings, with his major blemish being four walks. Oilers designated hitter Jimmy Nesselt walked and scored on an error in the third.
But then the wheels came off in the fifth. Carroll walked the first batter, then threw a ball to Oilers DH Tyler Gibson and tore the skin off a blood blister on his pitching hand, forcing him out of the game.
“We were counting on him pitching deeper into the game,” Gans said.
Dylan Blakeley was rushed into the game. Three walks, a hit batter, two errors and three hits later, the Oilers had put eight runs on the board in the fifth. With perfect fielding, the Seals likely could have avoided all but one of those runs.
Richardson said the Oilers were at their best when they did not extend their strike zone and earned walks.
While the Oilers had just four hits, Richardson said that many had not seen live pitching in two weeks, and that by their third at-bats, they were hitting the ball much better.
Both teams are not fully formed. The Seals were getting one more player Sunday night and five more today. The Oilers have 14 players in town, and 10 yet to join the team.
Among those players in town for the Oilers is just one catcher in Gabriel Munoz. Munoz, who throws right-handed, took foul tips off his right elbow and the front of his right shoulder. He also was hit in the left shoulder blade while batting.
But even with the battering he took, he did not leave the game.
“You gotta stay tough,” he said. “I’ll just ice it up.”
Jim Ploeger, who is from the Netherlands, will take the hill for the Seals tonight at 7 p.m. Gans also said the Seals have Ghazaleh “Ozzie” Sailors on their roster again this year. Last season, Sailors became the first woman to ever pitch against the Oilers.
Peninsula will counter with Dallas Devrieze, another freshman from Appalachian State.
“Guys were asking what kind of a crowd we would have, so it was nice having this crowd out on opening day to support us,” Richardson said. “Hopefully, they liked what they saw and will come back.”
Oilers notes: The Oilers had four players taken in the recently completed Major League Baseball draft.
Nigel Nootbaar, who played with the team in 2012, went first in the 12th round and 361st pick overall. Nootbaar is a right-hander out of USC.
In the 21st round with the 642nd pick, the Oakland Athletics selected Tim Proudfoot, who played for the Oilers in 2013 and is a shortstop out of Texas Tech. The next Oilers player off the board was 2013’s Colby Blueberg, a right-handed pitcher out of Nevada who was taken in the 24th round with the 717th pick by the San Diego Padres.
Finally, Sam Moore, also a 2013 Oilers player, was taken by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 40th round with the 209th pick. Moore is a right-handed pitcher out of the University of California-Irvine.
OIlers 9, Seals 0
Seals AB R H BI Oilers AB R H BI
VnBgm cf 4 0 0 0 Yagi ss 5 1 1 1
Mrci rf 2 0 0 0 Rose rf 3 0 0 0
Hrne 1b 4 0 1 0 Sdln cf 4 1 0 1
Egli dh 4 0 1 0 MGl 1b 3 1 0 0
Pvlsy lf 3 0 0 0 Mnz c 3 1 0 0
Cpbll 3b 3 0 0 0 Pske 3b 4 1 1 1
Mrqz 2b 3 0 0 0 Hrndz 2b 2 1 1 1
Alcntr ss 3 0 0 0 Nslt dh 0 1 0 0
Dhni c 3 0 0 0 Gbsn dh 1 1 0 0
---- -- -- -- -- Wrght lf 3 1 1 1
Totals 29 0 2 0 Totals 28 9 4 5
San Francisco 000 000 000 —0
Peninsula 001 080 00X —9
E — Campbell, Alcantar, Von Blasingame, Horne, Yagi. DP — Oilers 1. S — Gibson. SB — Yagi, Sandlin. CS — Rose.
IP H R ER BB SO
Carroll, L 4 1 2 2 4 5
Blakeley 3 4 7 0 3 2
Ramirez 1 0 0 0 0 1
Mason, W 5 2 0 0 0 7
Richey 2 0 0 0 1 2
Paschke 2 0 0 0 1 3
Carroll pitched to one batter in the fifth.
WP — Richey. HP — by Blakeley (Munoz).