Always be closing.
These are the words the Peninsula Oilers lived by Sunday as they narrowly closed out a 7-6 second victory against the Ukiah, Calif., Dons at Coral Seymour Memorial Park.
Although not every closing was a good one and the Oilers teetered close to losing were it not for an offensive rally in the final innings. After close calls, and innings they couldn't close, the Oilers' eventual win brought them to within one win of a .500 record.
The Oilers got on the score board first with a Skyler Mann left field single in bottom of the first inning to score Cameron Blair. But after three innings, starting pitcher Jake Postlewaite had trouble closing out the Dons when he had them against the ropes.
In the top of fourth inning, with runners at second and third, Ukiah's Stuart Hyman sent a fly ball deep into right field. Oiler right fielder Andy Dahl made a play on the ball for an out and threw out the scoring run -- Brian Harris -- with a missile to home plate. Then the Oiler defense fell apart.
Brett Flowers of the Dons stole third base and two Ukiah batters are walked, to load the bases. With a 2-2 count, Postlewaite hit a third batter and sent Flowers home for the Dons' first run.
Christian Martinez hits the third pitch he sees from Postlewaite to Oilers third-baseman Dusty Bensko, who misfires the throw to second base. Two runners score, and Bensko gets the corresponding errors.
As the Dons go to the top of their lineup, Matt Guiliano hits a ground ball to Bensko, and Bensko tosses a high throw to Oilers first-baseman Paul John Zobeck. Field umpire Bryon Darling called Guiliano safe at first, however, allowing another Ukiah run to score. Darling said Bensko's throw pulled Zobeck off the bag and credited Bensko with another error.
Oilers manager Kyle DiEduardo came out to the field to contest the call, and after exchanging some words with Darling, was tossed out of the game.
"I asked him to check with home plate," DiEduardo said after the game. "I told him to stay focused and he said 'What?' I told him again to stay focused, and he tossed me out of the game."
The Oilers eventually got out of the inning when center-fielder Joe Frazee threw out Martinez running for home on a Jack Ryser grounder.
At the top of the fifth inning, Oilers defense backs itself up against another wall for reliever Chad Decker. After Decker comes in and earns the first of his seven strike-outs from the Dons' lead-off batter, Flowers hits a single to left field, then steals second. Bensko is able to pull down a Hyman line drive for the second out before the Oilers run into trouble.
Jimmy Waniger knocks a fly-ball into shallow left field that Jimmy Bacon fumbles before grabbing it and sending a wild throw past Zobeck at first. Flowers comes in to score. On the next play, Ukiah's Aaron Garcia gets a swing bunt and Oilers catcher, Mann, overthrows Zobeck, letting Waniger score. The inning ended on a 6-3 out when Davia Uribes throws out Ukiah's Jeff Jones, but not until after the Dons have taken a comfortable lead of 6-1.
At the bottom of the fifth, however, the Oilers' bats heat up. After lead-off batter Frazee is walked, and steals second, Uribes knocks him home with a single to right field. With two men on, Mann bats in Uribes, and Cameron Blair comes in on a wild pitch to Ben Fritz.
Dahl got an RBI on a short pop-up that Ukiah pitcher Daniel Arizmendi bobbled close to the foul line, and Mann scored.
In the seventh, with reliever Roberto Hernandez pitching, Zobeck hit a triple to deep right field to score Fritz.
Zobeck's batting would come up big again in the bottom of the ninth, with one out and bases loaded and the score tied at 6 apiece. Zobeck sent a steamer rolling down the third base line that Ukiah's Brian Harris fielded, but Harris couldn't get the out at home and the Oilers won.
"These guys played their butts off and showed they had character," DiEduardo said. "Once the momentum changed in the fifth inning, they were able to get back into the game."
The victory helped the Oilers to close in on a .500 record, currently showing three wins and four losses.
Decker got his first Alaska win after throwing seven strike-outs against 18 batters.
"It was a good game," he said. "I've been struggling a lot lately and I knew I was going to break out of it eventually. I was just trying to keep us in it and let our offense get back.
The Oilers will play the Dons today at 7 p.m., at Coral Seymour Memorial Stadium.
OILERS 7, DONS 6
OILERS AB R H BI DONS AB R H BI
Frazee cf 3 1 1 0 Guiliano lf 5 0 1 0
Uribes ss 5 1 3 1 Ryser cf 5 0 1 0
Blair 2b 5 2 2 0 Harris 3b 4 0 1 0
Mann c 5 2 3 2 Flowers dh 4 2 2 0
Fritz dh 4 1 2 0 Hyman 1b 3 0 0 0
Bensko 3b 2 0 1 0 b5 Lane1b 1 0 0 0
Dahl rf 4 0 1 1 Waningr rf 3 2 1 0
Zobeck 1b 5 0 1 2 Garcia ss 3 1 0 0
Bacon lf 4 0 0 0 Jones c 2 1 0 1
Postlewt p 0 0 0 0 b6 Capon c 1 0 0 0
Decker p 0 0 0 0 Martinz 2b 3 0 1 0
t9 Wms 2b 1 0 0 0
Arizmndi p 0 0 0 0
Hernndz p 0 0 0 0
Totals 37 7 14 6 Totals 35 6 7 1
California 000 420 000 -- 6
Peninsula 100 040 101 -- 7
E -- Bensko (2), Bacon. DP -- Oilers 1. LOB -- Dons 5, Oilers 11. 2B -- Bensko, Blair, Flowers. 3B: Zobeck. SB -- Dahl, Flowers(2), Garcia. SF -- Bensko(2), Fritz.
Dons IP H R ER BB SO
Arizmendi 5.00 8 5 5 3 6
Hernandez, L 3.67 6 2 2 1 0
Decker, W 5.00 2 2 0 0 8
Postlewaite 4.00 5 4 1 3 2
WP -- Arizmendi (4). PB: -- Mann (2). T 3:00. A: 0.
Umpires -- Field: Darling; Home: Davis.
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