Fancy footwork and a nice hop made a victorious difference for the Peninsula Oilers Monday on Opening Night.
The Oilers clipped the California Bears 2-1 on the strength of solid pitching, Kyle Melton’s fourth-inning dance to the plate and Chad Price’s run-scoring single over shortstop Hop Sullivan. The two teams square off again tonight at 7 p.m. in Coral Seymour Memorial Park.
“This gets us off on the right track,” Melton said.
The 2006 Alaska Baseball League champs needed just over two hours to hand the Bears, formerly known as the Stockton Senators, their second loss in three outings. A crowd of better than 500 enjoyed a brisk sunny evening, many, in fact, huddled with blankets.
Melton, of Lewis-Clark State College (Idaho), tied the game 1-1 in the fourth with two outs. He got aboard with a lead-off double to left and stood at third with two outs and Juan Martinez at the plate. Martinez grounded to third and Melton eventually avoided a rundown and the tag of Bears’ pitcher Jeff Henning.
“There were two outs, and you run on two outs,” Melton said. “I looked back, and he (third baseman Mark Marelich) was throwing home. You’re not supposed to run into an out, so I got in a rundown, and it just went my way.”
One inning later, the Oilers (1-0) scored the decisive run. Adam Younger, of Oral Roberts, led off with a double to left and moved to third on a groundout. With the infield in, Price’s routine grounder to short got a high but routine hop over Sullivan’s head along the infield grass and bounded into left field, scoring Younger.
“It was a hanging curveball,” Price said. “I saw it good out of his hand. I was trying to get something that I could lift. If the infield isn’t in, I don’t get that hit.”
Instead, it lifted the sweetest hop over Hop and the Oilers had a 2-1 lead to protect.
And that was little problem. Peninsula pitchers didn’t allowed a hit in the final five innings and only one baserunner.
Left-hander Chance Deason and right-handed relievers Steve Goins (1-0) and Paul Smyth (save) retired 11 straight batters before Rodney Rawlins drew a one-out walk in the eighth. A balk moved him to second and a sacrifice to third. A groundout to first baseman Toby Davis, of Seward County Community College, squelched the threat.
“I caught Chance during college season,” Price said of his Eastern Oklahoma State teammate. “I knew how he threw. He’s a power pitcher, a good lefty. Steve came in, and he made it easy as possible. And then Paul, he’s my roommate. His ball had so much run on it. We were just going with the fastball.”
Deason struck out six and allowed four hits in four innings. Goins, of Cal Baptist, threw three hitless innings with a strikeout. Smyth, of Kansas, allowed just one walk and struck out the side in the ninth.
Despite the temperatures and first game together, the Oilers played flawless defense. The highlight was Parque getting cut down at third base trying to stretch a double into a triple in the third inning with two outs, courtesy of assists by right fielder Jeremiah Mejia (Riverside Community College) and shortstop Younger.
The Bears’ gems came from Parque in the first running down Melton’s fly to the gap in right-center; and Sullivan cutting off a bouncer up the middle by Michael Dabbs (Cowley County Community College) with two outs in the eighth.
The Bears had taken a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth with a swipe of home. Marelich bunted for a single, advanced on a wild pitch and took third on a passed ball before an out was recorded. With two outs, he darted home on the first pitch Deason fired to Sullivan, barely getting a hand under the lunging tag of Price.
Parque, the Bears’ leadoff hitter, was the only player with two hits ? both doubles.
Henning (0-1), a right-hander, went all eight innings for the Bears. He allowed just six hits, walked one and struck out one while throwing just 95 pitches.
OILERS 2, BEARS 1
Bears AB R H BI Oilers AB R H BI
Parque cf 4 0 2 0 Buss cf 4 0 1 0
Marelich 3b 3 1 1 0 Melton 2b 4 1 1 0
Miller rf 4 0 0 0 Dabbs lf 4 0 0 0
Porter 1b 3 0 0 0 Davis 1b 3 0 0 0
McLane ph 1 0 0 0 Martinez 3b 3 0 1 0
Sullivan ss 3 0 1 0 Mejia rf 2 0 0 0
Euker dh 3 0 0 0 Younger ss 2 1 1 0
Memeo c 3 0 0 0 Patterson dh 3 0 1 0
Rawlins 2b 2 0 0 0 Price c 3 0 1 1
Ayers lf 2 0 0 0 ---- -- -- -- --
Totals 28 1 4 0 Totals 28 2 6 1
Cal. 000 100 000 1
Pen. 000 110 00x 2
E Rawlins. DP California 2. LOB California 3, Peninsula 4. 2B Parque 2, Melton, Younger. 3B Buss. SB Marelich. S Marelich, Mejia, Ayers.
IP H R ER BB SO
Hennings (L 0-1) 8 6 2 2 1 1
Deason 4 4 1 0 0 6
Goins (W 1-0) 3 0 0 0 0 1
Smyth (S 1) 2 0 0 0 1 3
Bk Smyth. WP Deason. PB Price.
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