In addition to giving the Oilers pitching staff a valuable seven innings of rest Sunday in the semifinals of the Oilers 2001 Hardball Tournament, Marshall Boze also managed to give the Oilers coaching staff a good portion of the afternoon off as well.
Boze, the 30-year-old Soldotna High graduate who amassed 31 innings of major league experience while with the Brewers organization from 1990 to 1996 and the Padres organization in 1997, pitched the Oilers to a 3-1 victory over the Anchorage Bucs Sunday at Coral Seymour Memorial Park.
The victory moved the Oilers to the finals of the Hardball Tournament later in the afternoon.
Oilers coach Brian Green, who at 29 is a year younger than Boze, said he made no attempts to coach the right-hander. Instead, he made every effort to learn from him.
"That whole game was about Marshall Boze," Green said. "His effort gets us into the championship game, but most importantly both the players and the coaches got a chance to learn from his approach to pitching.
"These guys are all up here to learn, and to get to watch a guy who had worked his way up to the major leagues was invaluable."
Because the Oilers were short on pitching, and because this tournament is not part of official league play, Boze got a call from the Oilers asking for help. The Alaska Baseball League is normally for players in college or fresh out of high school.
Even though he hadn't pitched since Sept. 15, 2000, Boze agreed to help the Oilers out. He did just that by throwing all seven innings and giving up one unearned run on three hits.
"I told them on the phone I could give them three or four innings," Boze said. "When I got out there today, though, the adrenaline started flowing.
"It was like riding a bike. I figured it was time to tighten up the belt and see if I could get these guys into the championship game. It was a team effort. They got the runs we needed."
Peninsula had seven hits on offense, with four of them coming from Jackson Coleman and Paul John Zobeck, who, like Boze, are products of the local American Legion team.
The Oilers also played a solid game on defense. The only error made all game was by Boze, and it led to the Bucs' lone run of the game in the seventh inning. Peninsula's defense was crucial, because Boze struck out just one batter the entire afternoon.
Many were probably expecting Boze to ring up batters like Bucs starter Brian Finch, who took the loss despite fanning nine in just four innings.
But Boze was forced to get by on placement of pitches and guile. Arm troubles, which ended his career with the Padres in 1997, have reduced his fastball from 94 to 95 mph to 84 to 85 mph.
Boze spent the next few years playing in places from Taiwan to Mexico before deciding to take a hiatus from baseball this year.
"I really wanted to put baseball aside for a while," said Boze, who's working as a pipefitter for VECO. "I haven't been up here for a summer in 12 years. I wanted to do some of the things I'd enjoyed as a kid in Alaska in the summer, like camping and fishing."
Boze is planning on having surgery in August or September on the source of his arm problems, a bone spur in his throwing shoulder.
Depending on how things go after that, he said he wouldn't mind making another run at the big leagues. He said he's already had interest from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
In the meantime, Boze jumped at the chance to spend a day in an Oilers uniform. Boze said he's loved the game of baseball since he was 4 years old, so he grew up with an eye on the Oilers.
However, when the Brewers came calling after his first half season at a junior college, Boze, for obvious reasons, chose to play professional baseball that summer instead of Alaska League baseball.
"It was great getting to come out here and pitch in front of my family and friends," said Boze, who said he'd be happy to help the Oilers again. "There may have been a little pressure, but if you don't learn to deal with pressure in the major leagues they'll put you on the bus real fast."
Sunday's victory didn't come without its uneasy moments. In the fifth inning, Anchorage's Chris Zacuto led off with a double. On the next play, David Wallace lofted a lazy fly ball to right field and Boze had to run behind third base to back up the throw to third.
After the play, Boze took awhile getting back to the mound and stretched out a bit once he got there. Green said he got a little concerned in the dugout, but after the stretch Boze looked to the dugout and told Green he was OK.
"I was just tired, man," Boze said. "I'm about 25 pounds over my playing weight. I haven't been running."
Boze also let Anchorage get the tying run on first base in the seventh inning, but retired Chris Newman on a fielder's choice ground ball to end the game.
OILERS 3, BUCS 1
Oilers AB R H BI Bucs AB R H BI
Spano ss 2 0 0 0 Hassey ss 3 0 1 0
Teahen 2b 3 1 1 0 Evans cf 3 0 0 0
Simmons 3b 3 0 1 2 Abram 3b 3 1 0 0
Cunningham lf 3 0 0 0 Zacuto dh 3 0 1 0
D'Antona 1b 3 0 0 0 Wallace c 3 0 0 0
Zobeck dh 3 0 2 0 Hill lf 2 0 0 0
Kahoalii c 3 0 0 0 Hasbrouck ph 0 0 0 0
Horwitz cf 3 1 1 0 Olmstead 1b 3 0 1 0
Coleman rf 3 1 2 1 Newman rf 3 0 0 0
---- -- -- -- -- Robinson 2b 2 0 0 0
Totals 26 3 7 3 Totals 25 1 3 0
Peninsula 000 120 0 -- 3
Anchorage 000 000 1 -- 1
E -- Abram, Boze. LOB -- Oilers 6, Bucs 4. 2B -- Teahen, Horwitz, Zacuto. SB -- Zobeck. CS -- Zobeck, Teahen. S -- Spano.
IP H R ER BB SO
Boze, W (1-0) 7 3 1 0 1 1
Finch, L (0-1) 4 2 1 1 0 9
Crowder 3 5 2 2 1 2
HBP -- by Crowder (Spano); by Crowder (Teahen). WP -- Boze, Finch. PB -- Kahoalii, Wallace.
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