Usually, the exhibition game between the Peninsula Oilers and the American Legion Post 20 Twins is played as the first game of the year for the Oilers.
This gives the Twins, who are high school players, a chance to at least keep up with the Oilers, who are a bunch of college all-stars.
But this year, the two teams couldn't play the game, which is a fund-raiser for Post 20, until the Oilers already had four games, and a tournament championship, under their belts.
The difference showed on the scoreboard Monday night as the Oilers notched an 18-0 victory that was called after the fifth inning when the Twins began waving a white flag from the dugout.
"That was just a little sense of humor on my part," Twins manager Lance Coz said of his team's signal for surrender. "I think the game works better when it leads off the Oilers season, because they can get their pitchers a few innings and settle in at the plate."
Making matters worse for the Twins was that they had played two games in Anchorage Saturday and two games in Anchorage Sunday.
"Coming off the four-game weekend, our pitchers were tired," Coz said. "You could tell they were tired because the ball was staying up in the zone."
And when the ball stays up in the zone against a group of college all-stars, bad things happen.
Justin Payment and Aaron Hughes were the only pitchers to have any success against the Oilers. Payment pitched a perfect first inning, picking up a strikeout, while Hughes shut the Oilers down on two hits in the fifth inning.
"Just write about the first and last inning," Hughes joked after the game. "That's all they need to know about."
In between the first and last innings, the Oilers, who still have to get 11 of their official 22 roster players into town, flexed some offensive muscle.
Among those with slow-pitch-softball-like numbers were Bobby Spano with three runs, Mark Teahen with two runs and four RBIs, Luke Simmons with four RBIs, Matt Cunningham with two runs and four RBIs, Trey Hendricks with two runs, two doubles and two RBIs and Brian Horwitz with three RBIs.
The beneficiary of all the run support was Oilers starter and winner Willie Castillo, who pitched all five innings and gave up no runs and one hit.
Castillo played for Post 20 last year, and said he was happy to employ the if-you-can't-beat-'em-join-'em strategy.
"It's a lot better being on this side," said Castillo, who also scored two runs on offense for the Oilers.
Castillo redshirted his freshman year at Eastern Arizona Junior College, and is hoping to get some playing time at shortstop and second base next year.
Although he hadn't pitched since last year with the Twins, the lone hit Castillo gave up was to J.D. Pault, who drilled a single to left in the third inning.
"J.D. broke up my no-hitter," Castillo said. "I'm going to have a talk with him about that."
All joking aside, Coz thanked Oilers coach Brian Green and his players for playing hard and not showing up his team.
He also thanked Kenai Chrysler Center, which bought out the ballpark so admission was free for all the fans.
The Twins are off until next weekend, when they take another four-game trip to Anchorage.
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Oilers note: Sunday's sterling pitching performance by Marshall Boze, a 1990 graduate of Soldotna who pitched for 31 innings in the major leagues, may not be the last time Boze gets a chance to don an Oilers uniform.
According to Mike Baxter, the baseball operations manager for the Oilers, there are no rules that would keep Boze from pitching for the Oilers this season.
Boze also did not want to take another person's spot on the roster, but because he is an alumni of the Post 20 Twins, he doesn't count against the Oilers 22-player limit.
"He's interested in pitching some more, and we're interested in having him pitch some more, but so far there's been no commitment," Baxter said.
Later, Baxter said Boze had been penciled in to start Saturday against the Anchorage Glacier Pilots.
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Free hot dogs: After a preseason tournament and an exhibition game, the "official" 2001 season opener will be tonight at 7 p.m. at Coral Seymour Memorial Park, as the Oilers host the Ukiah Eagles of Mendicino, Calif.
The season opener again will be sponsored by the Peninsula Clarion, Country Foods and Coca-Cola. There will be prizes, free hot dogs and free Coke drinks. Watch the Clarion for free tickets to the game or stop by Country Foods.
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