The Anchorage Bucs haven't had much success as the visiting team when they face the Peninsula Oilers at Coral Seymour Memorial Park -- their win last July broke a three-year losing streak in Kenai.
Unfortunately for the Oilers Saturday, the Bucs were the home team by virtue of a coin flip, and Anchorage's Brad Hassey hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Bucs a 3-2 win in the late game of the 2001 Hardball Tournament.
Earlier Saturday, the Mat-Su Miners secured the No. 1 seed for today's semifinals by defeating the Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks 15-2 and then coming back to beat the Bucs 5-4.
The Oilers will have a rematch with the Bucs in today's noon semifinal while Mat-Su will play Fairbanks at 3 p.m. The tournament championship game is scheduled for 6 p.m.
"That's a real tough way to end it, especially when (Nic Puckett) threw a great game," said Oilers head coach Brian Green of Hassey's home run.
Puckett surrendered a run to the Bucs in the first inning when Hassey singled to lead off the bottom of the inning, advanced on a walk and a bunt single and scored when Chris Zacuto grounded into a double play.
Puckett got a ground ball for the final out of the inning, then retired the side in order on his way to cruising into the seventh inning.
"He got better as the game progressed," Green said. "He developed his curveball, and any time a guy can come back after struggling early, that's a positive thing."
The Oilers tied the game in the third inning when Mark Teahen hit a two-out double to the wall in left field. Jamie D'Antona followed with a hard ground ball straight up the middle.
Hassey, the Anchorage shortstop, dove onto the outfield grass in an attempt to keep the run from scoring, but while he was able to stop the ball, he couldn't get up to get a throw off and Teahen never hesitated rounding third base.
The Oilers manufactured a run in the sixth inning to take a 2-1 lead. Luke Simmons doubled to right to lead off the inning, advanced on a sacrifice bunt by catcher Matt Cunningham and scored on a sacrifice fly to deep left field by left fielder Trey Hendricks.
The Oilers had an opportunity to tie the game up sooner when Simmons and Cunningham led off the second inning with back-to-back singles and moved up on a passed ball, but both runners were stranded to end the inning.
"I think we understand the value of execution," Green said. "For the most part, we executed -- except for one instance, and that can be the difference in the ballgame."
The Bucs tied the game in the bottom of the sixth when pinch hitter David Wallace walked, advanced on a sacrifice bunt and a single and scored on a base hit by David Evans.
The Oilers looked like they might send the game to extra innings with their defense in the bottom of the seventh inning. Tyler Hasbrock led off with a single for the Bucs, but Puckett did well to field an attempted sacrifice bunt by David Oberg and cut down Hasbrock at second.
Puckett then caught Oberg leaving early for second base for the second out of the inning, but Massey ended the game on the first pitch of his at-bat.
Puckett allowed three runs on seven hits in 6 2-3 innings. He walked three and struck out three.
"So far, everyone has made the plays," Simmons said of the Oilers' infield defense. "As much as anything, our pitchers are doing a good job getting ground balls. Until that home run, there hadn't been anything hit hard to the outfield."
Marshall Boze, who developed his talent with the American Legion Post 20 Twins on his way to pitch in the major leagues, will start today's semifinal game for the Oilers.
BUCS 3, OILERS 2
Oilers AB R H BI Bucs AB R H BI
Spano ss 3 0 0 0 Hassey ss 4 2 2 1
Teahen 2b 3 1 1 0 Newman rf 1 0 0 0
D'Antona 3b 3 0 1 1 Abram 3b 3 0 1 0
Simmons 1b 3 1 2 0 Zacuto c 3 0 0 0
Cunningham c 3 0 1 0 Hill lf 2 0 1 0
Hendricks lf 3 0 0 1 Evans cf 3 0 1 1
Horwitz cf 3 0 1 0 Olmstead dh 3 0 0 0
Kahoalii dh 3 0 0 0 Hasbrock 1b 3 0 1 0
Coleman rf 3 0 0 0 Robinson 2b 1 0 1 0
---- -- -- -- -- Oberg 2b 2 0 0 0
---- -- -- -- -- Wallace ph 0 1 0 0
---- -- -- -- -- Crowder rf 0 0 0 0
Totals 27 2 6 2 Totals 24 3 7 2
Peninsula 001 001 0 -- 2
Anchorage 100 001 1 -- 3
E -- Zacuto, Hasbrock. DP -- Oilers 1, Bucs 1. LOB -- Oilers 5, Bucs 3. 2B -- Robinson, Teahen, Simmons, Hassey. HR -- Hassey. S -- Cunningham, Abram 2. SF -- Hendricks. CS -- Oberg.
IP H R ER BB SO
Puckett, L (0-1) 6 2-3 7 3 3 3 3
Grovell 2 1-3 3 1 1 1 2
Simmons, W (1-0) 4 2-3 3 1 1 0 4
Two outs when winning run scored
WP -- Puckett. PB -- Zacuto 2. Balk -- Puckett.
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