The Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks swept a doubleheader from the Peninsula Oilers on Sunday in Alaska Baseball League play at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai.
The Panners won by scores of 4-3 and 4-1 to put an end to the season-opening, four-game winning streak of the Oilers. The Goldpanners are now 2-2 in the league and overall after splitting with the Oilers to open the season.
The Oilers begin a three-game set with the U.S. Military All-Stars tonight at home. Game times for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday will be 7 p.m., but there will be special ceremonies starting at 6:30 p.m.
Both the Oilers and the Panners were battling a shortage of bodies in the doubleheader. The Panners are still missing 12 players, while the Oilers are still missing eight.
Goldpanners manager Jim Dietz said his team may have had the advantage Sunday because the Panners started their season on Friday. The Oilers started Wednesday.
"In all fairness to Kenai, they've been playing a lot of games and it may have caught up to them," Dietz said. "Kenai has an outstanding ball club with great coaching."
Oilers coach Dennis Machado was not buying the fatigue argument.
"There are no excuses," he said. "We're short-handed, missing eight guys, but that's not a reason we can't do the little things right. We'd been doing them right, but we didn't do them right today."
The tone for the day was set when Goldpanners leadoff hitter Evan Simonitsch reached first in the opening game on an error by Oilers third baseman Patrick Wisdom. The Oilers made another error in the inning as the Goldpanners went up 2-0.
The Oilers came back to tie the game in the second inning as Kenny Wise singled to score Nathan Theunissen and Jeff Popick scored on a passed ball. In the fifth, the Oilers took the lead as Joe Kohan singled with two outs and eventually scored on a wild pitch.
Fairbanks came right back in the top of the sixth with two runs that would win the game.
The second game belonged to Fairbanks pitcher Zach Vawter-Scoggins. He is a sophomore from Yuba College in California, and Dietz said he is supposed to be the team's broadcaster on the radio this year.
With the short roster, Vawter-Scoggins was pressed into duty on the mound and went all seven innings, giving up just four hits and one run. Three of those hits came in the first inning, when the Oilers got their lone run.
"We thought he would be good for a couple of innings," Dietz said. "We were shocked when he was able to keep going after the third and fourth innings."
The Oilers lone run came when Tyler Grimes scored on a sacrifice fly by Popick in the first inning.
The Panners came back with two runs in the second, with Jesse Sikorski scoring on a wild pitch and Kevin Roundtree scoring on a passed ball. Oilers starter Tyler Garrison also gave up a run in the third before being lifted after 2 1-3 innings.
"Some things happened while he was out there that didn't help him at all," Machado said. "When you give teams extra opportunities or 90 feet, in this league, they're going to make you pay."
Joe Kohan then entered for the Oilers, going four innings and giving up an unearned run. Kohan is not normally a pitcher for the team, but Machado said Kohan was a good pitcher in high school and picked the team up big time by eating up some innings Sunday.
The coach said four more Oilers players arrived on Sunday and two more are arriving today.
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