Leave it to real life to create ostentatious moments that fiction would not touch.
And have a day, Jake Darrow.
Darrow grew up on the central peninsula starting at the age of 3, with his passion for baseball growing up along with him to such an extent that he admitted Sunday that he may be to obsessed with the game.
All that time, Coral Seymour Memorial Park played a central role in that passion, first as he was a youngster tugging on the shirts of Peninsula Oilers for autographs, then as a player for the American Legion Twins. The 2012 Soldotna graduate would win state with the Twins in 2012.
So about a month ago, knowing he was coming back for a second stint with the Oilers this season, he hatched a plan.
He would propose to his girlfriend, Saria Bryan of Arizona, before a game.
“I thought I’d do it on this field,” he said. “I grew up playing on it. It means a lot to me.”
Fortunately for the scheming Darrow, Bryan is a talented singer. So with help from head coach Kyle Brown, Oilers broadcasters Dan Gensel and Casey Roehl and assent from the Oilers board, Bryan was given the task of singing the national anthem before the Oilers would sweep the Anchorage Bucs, 2-1 and 5-2, on Sunday in Alaska Baseball League play.
Astute observers would have seen Darrow clustering behind the mound during the anthem with the pitcher, catcher and first baseman, instead of being in the outfield with the other infielders and outfielders as he should have been.
“They were just looking at me like I had no idea what I was doing,” Darrow said of his teammates. “I told them, ‘Trust me, I know what I’m doing.’”
Darrow said he knew Bryan would say yes, but he was still nervous something would go wrong. The proposal went as planned, with parents, John and Monica Darrow of Soldotna, catching the whole thing on video.
Then there was still a game to play.
“I was definitely a little nervous,” Darrow said. “I didn’t want to play a bad game after such a special moment.”
Nothing to worry about. Darrow would score the winning run in the Oilers 2-1 victory to cap his special day in a way that stretches credulity.
With the game knotted at 1, Darrow led off the bottom of the fifth inning by reaching on an error by the shortstop. On his attempt at stealing second, the catcher threw wildly, allowing Darrow to pop up and storm for third. When the throw to get him sailed into the Bucs dugout, Darrow got to enjoy another special trip to the home plate area.
“It was crazy,” he said. “There were three errors in that sequence that allowed me to score.”
Darrow, who took the second game off, had no trouble when asked what he would do now after such a special day.
“Celebrate,” he said.
The Oilers victory in the first game was fueled by the pitching of Noah Owen, Erickson Fish and Justin Jaime. Owen went 3 2-3 innings, giving up four hits and a run. Fish pitched a scoreless 2 2-3 innings, while Jaime was perfect in getting the final two outs.
The Oilers other run came when Grant Wood singled to score Evan Berkey in the bottom of the fourth inning. That hit was the only one for the Oilers in the game.
In the second game, Oilers pitchers Ryan Silva and Andrew Lopez were again up to the task. Silva pitched four innings and gave up three hits and a run, while Lopez went three innings and gave up two hits and a run.
At the plate, Tyler Duke was 3 for 4 with two runs, while Ryan Koch was 2 for 3.
The Oilers grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning before the Bucs tied it up in the top of the third. The Oilers came right back with three in the bottom of the third to take the lead for good, then added another in the fourth. The Bucs would not score again until the seventh.
The Oilers are now 4-1 and at the top of the Alaska Baseball League, while the Bucs are 1-4. The two teams finish a season-opening series tonight at 7 p.m. before the Oilers go on the road.