Baseball is a game of inches, and sometimes close just isn't good enough.
The Peninsula Oilers proved that Sunday, pushing Stockton (Calif.) to the brink of defeat before allowing the Governors to score three unearned runs in the seventh inning and steal a win in the first game of a doubleheader at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai.
With two outs in the seventh, all Peninsula pitcher Joey Newby had to do was retire Stockton's James McCarthy to finish off a stellar pitching performance. McCarthy drew a walk, however, and after the dust had settled in the inning, Stockton was up 7-6.
The Governors were aided by an untimely Oilers error in the inning, as well as two run-scoring singles.
Peninsula fought back to tie things up in the seventh on an RBI single by catcher Joey Hendricks that scored right fielder Andy Dahl.
But with Newby out of the game in the eighth, Stockton took advantage of Oilers assistant coach Brian Hickman, scoring three unearned runs off Hickman to take a 10-6 lead. Peninsula fought back for one run in the bottom of the eighth, but couldn't come through with the bases loaded, losing 10-7.
Dahl, who hit a home run during Peninsula's four-run first inning, said Sunday's first game was just a case of a few unlucky breaks coming back to haunt the Oilers.
"Baseball's unpredictable," Dahl said.
The loss spoiled what was a fine pitching performance by Newby, who got the start when scheduled starter Steven Wright came up sore during pregame warmups. Newby, a Soldotna native who said he plans to head to Colorado soon to work out for some professional teams, said he was just hoping to get some good innings in Saturday.
"It was the first time I've (started) in probably a month," Newby said.
Newby was dominant during the middle innings Sunday, retiring 11 out of 13 batters during one stretch.
"When things are working, I don't stop to think about it, they just happen," he said.
Newby said it was fun to step in an throw some innings for the Oilers, especially since two of his brothers David and Eric also took the field Sunday for Peninsula.
"It was fun being in the same dugout with my little brothers," he said. "I can't remember when the last time was."
Oilers 5, Governors 2, Game 2
Behind a strong pitching performance from starter Eric Butkiewicz, the Oilers fought back to earn a split with the Governors in the second game of the doubleheader.
Butkiewicz gave up just two runs over six strong innings before giving way to utility player Rocky Laguna, who picked up a save by pitching a flawless seventh.
Laguna also collected three hits including a 2-run double in the fourth inning for the Oilers.
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