Tyler Flemming of the Peninsula Oilers makes a throw to first for the last out of the third inning Friday at Coral Seymour Memorial Park.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
After starting the season with four consecutive victories, trailing only once for a half an inning in the season opener, Peninsula Oilers’ manager Aric Thomas wouldn’t mind a challenge.
But he doesn’t necessarily want it get it get to that point.
“You would like to get tested. You would like to see how your club’s going to respond when they’re down three runs late in the game,” he said after his team rebounded from a two-run, first-inning deficit to come back and beat the North County Waves, 6-2, on Friday evening at Coral Seymour Memorial Park. “If you just take care of business early, you don’t have to worry about it. These are a lot easier for a coach.”
There’s actually many things making life great for Thomas these days.
The Oilers (5-0) continue to carry a mammoth stick, pounding out at least nine hits for the fourth straight game in totaling 36 runs over that span.
Chad Price hits a ground ball to get on base Friday night.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
“Offensively, we’re going to hit and we’re going to score a lot of runs. We’re going to steal bases and we’re going to bunt,” Thomas said. “You can see we’re going to hit and run and do all the offensive baseball stuff. But these are really good hitters. They’re established hitters and they’ve got a lot of confidence right now. So, we weren’t worried at all.”
The starting rotation is also living up to its billing, featuring three drafted in this year’s Major League draft, one of whom started Friday.
Tyler Fleming, recently drafted by the Texas Rangers for the second time in as many years, struggled early but was able to find his command in allowing only two runs on two hits and a pair of walks while striking out two over four innings.
Walking two out of the first four batters, Fleming surrendered a two-run single to Brent Planck as the Oilers fell behind for only the second time all season.
No need to panic yet, though.
They stormed back in their half of the first when Nick Buss led off with an infield single and scored when Eric Melton’s sacrifice bunt caused Planck to throw the ball into the outfield. Michael Dabbs then knotted the game at two when he roped an inside offering from Waves’ starter Tim Brown (four innings pitched, six runs, nine hits) down the left field line for an easy double.
Hot-hitting switch hitter Toby Davis (2-for-4) followed with another RBI double to right and later scored on a ground out by Joe Patterson for a 4-2 advantage.
Fleming and the rest of the Oilers’ staff (Chance Deason, Joey Haug, Paul Smyth) subsequently settled down, facing the minimum 24 batters over the final eight innings, wiggling out of the second with a double play and the eighth when Smyth fanned Chris Montgomery and catcher Chad Price (2-for-3) caught Nick Giuliani stealing at second.
“That’s the thing, we’re going to score runs and it really, really helps the pitcher,” Fleming said. “You give up a two-spot in the first inning, we come out and score four. That really, really helped me out, gave me a little more confidence.”
While the offensive support certainly helps, it’s the Oilers unflappable defense that continues to make plays, recording 15 of the final 25 outs on grounders.
“Our defense is solid and they’ve proved that just in these six games,” Fleming said. “It makes it really easy as a pitcher when you’ve got a defense like that, that any play that should be made, is going to be made, plus some more. All you’ve got to do is throw it down the middle.”
That’s exactly what the Oilers did.
Deason, Haug and Smyth kept North County hitters at bay, combining for five innings of scoreless relief during which they allowed no hits and only one walk.
“The guys that we have are established, they throw strikes,” Thomas said. “Tyler’s a guy under control with the Rangers and there’s a reason for that ... Even a guy like Joey Haug comes in and throws strikes. A guy like Paul Smyth, he’s the closer at Kansas ‘cause he throws strikes and that’s what you’re looking for.
“With the wood bat, you’ve got to attack the strike zone and these guys are doing a great job of it.”
The Oilers padded the lead with a run in the third when Steve Goins was hit by a pitch, advanced to second on a single by Patterson and came around to score when Jeremiah Mejia’s sharp grounder hit Planck in the chest, allowing him to reach first base safely.
With two outs in the fourth, Dabbs was hit by a 1-2 pitch, Davis singled to right and Goins made it 6-2 when he singled up the middle.
“They’re definitely rough,” Fleming said of the Oilers’ formidable lineup. “Everybody’s a tough out in our lineup and that’s a good thing.”
Matthew Carroll can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oilers 6, Waves 2
Waves ab r h bi Oilers ab r h bi
Simper ss 3 1 3 0 Buss cf 4 1 1 0
Torres 2b 4 1 0 0 Melton 2b 3 1 0 0
Bell dh 4 0 0 0 Dabbs rf 3 2 1 1
Castellito lf 2 0 0 0 Davis 3b 4 1 2 1
Planck 3b 3 0 1 2 Goins 1b 2 1 1 1
Hom 1b 3 0 0 0 Patterson dh 4 0 1 1
Fonseca rf 3 0 0 0 Mejia lf 4 0 1 0
Giuliani cf 3 0 1 0 Martinez ss 3 0 0 0
Montgomery c 3 0 0 0 Price c 3 0 2 0
Totals 28 2 2 2 Totals 30 6 10 4
North County 200 000 000 2 2 2
Peninsula 401 100 00x 6 10 0
E Waves 2, Oilers 0. LOB Waves 1, Oilers 7. DP Waves 1, Oilers 1. SB Simper, Castellito, Price. 2B Dabbs, Davis, Mejia.
ip h r er bb so
Brown, L 4 9 6 3 0 2
Roniger 3 0 0 0 3 0
Daily 1 1 0 0 0 0
Fleming, W 4 2 2 2 2 2
Deason 1 0 0 0 0 0
Haug 2 0 0 0 0 2
Smyth 2 0 0 0 1 1
HBP by Brown (Goins, Dabbs).
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