The faces on the Oilers may have changed from the 1999 season, but, for now, the ingredients that gave the team success are in place again.
The host Oilers completed a three-game sweep of the Oceanside, Calif., Waves Sunday with an 8-1 victory. Peninsula improved to 3-0 on the young season.
Last season, the Oilers won an Alaska Baseball League crown and finished second in the National Baseball Congress World Series with stunning comebacks, solid pitching and timely hitting.
Although names responsible for the 1999 heroics like Mike Garner, Jeff Nichols, Danny Garcia and Jeff Bowman were absent in the Waves series, the same old winning elements were as strong as ever.
The Oilers won Friday's game by scoring five runs in the eighth for a '99 style comeback, then took Saturday's and Sunday's games with clutch hitting and solid pitching and defense.
"It's still early," said Oilers manager Gary Adcock, who also led the '99 team. "This team is going to have some setbacks and hard times.
"That's when I'll be able to get the pulse of this team."
Still, it seems odd that players can be flown in from places across the Lower 48 and perform similar to a '99 team most current players know nothing about.
Take, for instance, Jeremy Reed. In 1999, Danny Garcia was the catalyst for the Oilers club, scraping together runs when they were needed.
Reed knows only of Garcia as "that guy from Pepperdine," yet against the Waves he found a way to score two runs each game.
"It is kind of nice, isn't it?" Adcock said when asked about how similar Reed's early season play was to Garcia's.
Sunday, Reed got the Oilers on the board in the first inning by singling, stealing second and scoring on a throwing error. In the third, he reached on a bunt single and eventually came around to score on a single by Jeff Jones.
Garcia is currently trying out for Team USA and if he doesn't make it, he is expected back with the Oilers this summer.
Reed doesn't see the possible addition of Garcia as a threat.
"You can never have too many guys who know how to create runs in a lineup," said Reed, who just finished his freshman season at Long Beach State. "It'd be nice having nine guys like that in a lineup."
While Reed's 3-for-5, two-run, two-RBI performance was the offensive highlight of the day, the Oilers also had nice offensive outings from Timothy McCabe (two hits, three RBIs), Jeff Jones (two hits) and Luke Simmons (two hits).
Adcock said McCabe's resounding, three-RBI double to the gap in left center in the eight inning was the biggest hit of the game. The bash led to a six-run eighth and an 8-0 Oilers lead.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Oilers continued to frustrate the Waves, who scored just seven runs in the series.
Sunday, Philip Tribe, Andy Perkins and Mike Smith combined to give up just four hits and forced the Waves to leave 14 runners on base.
"That was the story of the series," said Waves coach Mike Studer, whose team dropped to 4-7 overall and 0-4 in Alaska. "We couldn't get hits when we needed them."
The Oilers have been known for solid pitching in past years, but Tribe and Perkins don't know much about that yet.
Perkins, who had three scoreless innings Sunday, arrived on the peninsula less than 24 hours before Sunday's game. Tribe didn't decide he was going to play with the Oilers until less than a week ago.
"It looks like we're going to have a good staff," said Tribe, casting a glance at the scoreboard. "Look, we're shutting everybody down."
Perkins, understandably, wasn't as sure of the staff's potential.
"I don't really know anybody," he said. "I just got here at midnight last night. It won't take long to get to know everybody, though."
Adcock, in his second year managing the Oilers, said the continuity in the face of changing faces is no coincidence.
"This is just a great organization," Adcock said. "We've got the best host families and that makes a big difference as to how the team plays on the field.
"The front office also is great. They know what it takes to win in this league."
The Oilers will continue to prep for ABL play today when they take on Athletes in Action today at 7 p.m. at Coral Seymour Memorial Park.
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