Peninsula Oilers third baseman and coach Thad Johnson makes a throw for an out in the ninth inning Friday.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Thad Johnson is in his third season as a coach with the Peninsula Oilers, his first as head coach. In each of the past three years, the Oilers have found themselves a bit short-staffed to start the season and coaches have stepped in to fill holes in the lineup until a few more players arrive.
But while he’s gotten loose in the bullpen on a few occasions, Johnson had yet to make an appearance on the field, that is until this week, when he started in center field in Thursday’s exhibition game against the American Legion Twins, and Friday, when he played third base for the Oilers’ season opener against the Stockton, Calif., Senators.
“It’s great. I hadn’t played in five years, hadn’t seen a game at-bat in eight years,” Johnson said.
Keelin McGraw, 3, watches the game through fencing along the third baseline Friday night.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
“Basically, we’re playing with coaches and pitchers. It helps a team get everybody rallied together. It’s a chance for some pitchers to have some fun. You play games a little easier if you’re having fun out there.”
The Peninsula Oilers opened their 2006 season with a win Friday night, coming from behind to defeat the Senators 5-3 in front of an enthusiastic crowd at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai.
“It was fun,” said the Oilers’ Chance Gerloff after his two-run single put the Oilers up 4-3 in the bottom of the eighth. “We don’t have all of our team here, so the three coaches are playing. It makes it fun, the old guys getting out here competing, and it rubs off on us young guys.”
Jesse Jordan, the Oilers starting pitcher, said it was nice to be back in Kenai after playing for the Peninsula in 2005.
“It’s real good to be back. I feel like a veteran. I’m comfortable with my surroundings, so that helps,” Jordan said. “I think I pitched pretty well. My last college game was at the end of April, so I think I did pretty well for the time I’ve had off since then.”
Peninsula Oilers' Daniel Boyle collides with the Stockton Senators' Shane Farmer at second base during a tag attempt in the eighth inning Friday. Farmer was safe on the play.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Jordan went 5 1/3 innings, allowing two unearned runs on three hits. Jordan struck out four and walked two.
The Oilers got one run in support of Jordan in the third inning, when Chance Gerloff singled and stole second. After back-to-back walks loaded the bases, Chris Saddoris hit a seeing-eye single past the third baseman and just out of reach of the shortstop to plate Gerloff.
The Senators struck for two runs in the sixth inning. Jeff Giacomini reached on a two-base error and Steve Rinaudo followed with an RBI single, chasing Jordan.
Rinaudo advanced on an infield single, and scored on a passed ball.
The Senators added one more run in the seventh when James Villareal was hit by a pitch and advanced on a sacrifice by Travis Thomas. Riley Gavello singled to score Villareal.
The Oilers came back with a run in the seventh when Kip Masuda hit a lead-off double and, two outs later, Saddoris came through with his second RBI single of the evening.
The Oilers took the lead in the eighth. Daniel Boyle drew a lead-off walk and Johnson was hit by a pitch with one out. A walk to Masuda loaded the bases for Gerloff. After the Senators made a pitching change, Gerloff laced the first pitch he saw into left-center field, allowing Boyle and Johnson to score and Masuda to take third. David Newby drove Masuda home with a sacrifice fly to deep center field.
As for Johnson, he said the feeling of playing in a game would linger for the rest of the season, though it might have as much to do with straining a hamstring against the Twins as with the thrill of making a nice stab on a shot down to third in the top of the ninth against Stockton.
“I’m probably going to be sore for the rest of the summer but it does feel better when you get the win. It doesn’t hurt as much,” Johnson said.
Notes: Nick Kliebert, a member of the 2004-05 Oilers, was selected by the San Diego Padres in the 25th round of the Major League Baseball first-year player draft. Kliebert, a senior at Pepperdine, was selected as a second baseman by the Padres organization with the 753rd overall pick.
OILERS 5, SENATORS 3
Stockton ab r h bi Oilers ab r h bi
Gavello cf 5 0 1 1 Masuda c 4 2 3 0
Martinez 2b 5 0 1 0 Gerloff ss 4 1 2 2
Giacomini dh 4 1 0 0 Preston 1b 2 0 0 0
Rinaudo ss 4 1 2 1 Newby cf 2 0 0 1
Farmer rf 3 0 1 0 Saddoris lf 4 0 2 2
Bassi lf 4 0 0 0 Matsumoto dh 4 0 0 0
Simas c 2 0 0 0 Boyle 2b 3 1 0 0
Villareal 3b 2 1 0 0 Hickman rf 4 0 0 0
Thomas 1b 2 0 1 0 Johnson 3b3 1 0 0
Randhawa ph 1 0 0 0 - - - - -
Totals 32 3 7 2 Totals 30 5 7 5
Stockton 000 002 100 3
Peninsula 001 000 13x 5
E Masuda, Gerloff, Hickman. DP Senators 1. LOB . SB Rinaudd, Gerloff, Newby, Gavello, Farmer, Boyle. 2B Masuda, Thomas. S Farmer, Thomas. SF Newby.
ip h r er bb so
Allen 5 4 1 1 5 7
Mayer, L 2 1/3 2 3 3 2 2
Lum 2/3 1 0 0 1 0
Jordan 5 1/3 3 2 0 2 4
Koons 1 2/3 2 1 1 0 1
Heines, W (1-0) 2 1 0 0 0 1
WP Allen, Koons, Mayer. HBP by Koons (Villareal), by Mayer (Gerloff), by Mayer (Johnson). PB Masuda.
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