Peninsula Oilers manager Aric Thomas would like the first victory of the season to be the model of many Oilers victories this season.
The Oilers evened their overall record at 1-1 with a 4-3 victory over the California Dons Friday at Coral Seymour Memorial Park.
The win featured solid pitching, good defense and a winning run created by a stolen base.
The solid pitching came from Oilers starter Pat Cassa and Oilers reliever Joey Newby. Cassa picked up the win by giving up three runs and seven hits in eight innings of work. Newby worked a flawless ninth for the save.
"He's a crafty little left-hander," Thomas said of Cassa. "He's got some different things he does in his delivery to create some deception.
"He did what was necessary to keep hitters off-balance."
Cassa struck out just two batters Friday, so the Oilers defense played a big role in the game. At Arizona State University, Cassa came to enjoy the defense shortstop and second-round Major League draft pick Dustin Pedroia provided.
"Whenever the ball was hit to him, I was confident it would be an out," Cassa said. "I'm getting the same feeling from the fielders I have up here.
"Like the coach told me before the game, it's 9-on-1 out there."
The most important fielding play by the Oilers came in the top of the sixth inning, with the Dons holding a 1-0 lead.
With one out and runners on second and third, Joe Echaves lofted a fly ball to medium center field. Oilers center fielder Andy Dahl made the catch and then cut down Jacob Vasquez at the plate when he tried to tag up.
Peninsula Oilers pitcher Pat Cassa makes a throw Friday against the California Dons. Cassa struck out just two batters but picked up the win with three runs and seven hits.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
"It's the kind of situation where you want to have the ball in your hands," Dahl said. "I was fortunate enough to get the ball, and I felt fairly confident I could throw him out."
Thomas said the play changed the momentum in the game.
"Any double play where you end the inning by getting an out at the plate is going to pick your team up," Thomas said. "It also makes the other team feel like they might be a little bit unlucky."
Dons starter Dan Arizmendi shut out the Oilers on two hits over the first four innings of the game. Will Goodwin came on for Arizmendi in the fifth. The Oilers bats finally got going after Dahl's play in the sixth.
Peninsula loaded the bases on two walks and a hit batter in the bottom of the sixth. Andrew Helmich relieved Goodwin and Joey Hendricks greeted him with a single to left field. Dons left fielder Tristan Gale let the ball get by him, and by the time he returned it to the infield the bases were cleared and the Oilers had a 3-1 lead.
The Dons came right back in the top of the seventh to tie the game. Pinch hitter Matt Lewis drove in one run when he rocked a double off the wall in center field, then Matt Davidson came on to run for Lewis and scored on a sacrifice fly.
The Oilers mounted the winning run in the bottom of the seventh. With one out, Nate Faulkner walked and stole second. Nick Kliebert struck out, but Dahl, who finished 2-for-3, blooped a single to center that scored Faulkner.
Thomas said the role the running game played in the winning run is a sign of what the Oilers want to do this year. Not only did Faulkner steal second, but the attention Dons shortstop Jose Chavez was giving Faulkner may have allowed Dahl's blooper to drop.
"It was a good team win," Thomas said. "Cassa kept us in the game when we weren't hitting. Then when he gave up the 3-1 lead, the team picked him up and got him the winning run."
The Oilers, who were off Saturday, face Stockton today in a doubleheader at Coral Seymour Memorial Park starting at 2 p.m.
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