Here we go again.
Last season, the Peninsula Oilers captured the Alaska Baseball League title on the final day of the season with a 2-1 victory over the Anchorage Bucs. The Oilers, with an 8-0 record, open up their ABL season tonight at Seymour Park with a 7 p.m. game against the Bucs. The Bucs also tore through their nonleague schedule with an 8-0 record, then opened up ABL play on Wednesday by topping the Anchorage Glacier Pilots 6-4.
“It’s good to be winning, but sometimes winning can breed complacency,” Oilers coach Daniel Boyle said. “We don’t want that. We want to make sure we keep the guys informed what the league is going to be like.”
Including an exhibition victory over the Twins, the Oilers have a .334 team batting average and a 0.59 team ERA.
“Even though those teams were not as good as Alaska league teams, they can still play,” Boyle said. “If we didn’t come out and play baseball the way it should be played, we could lose to anybody.”
On Monday, the Oilers announced that head coach Aric Thomas would be leaving the team for personal reasons and Boyle would be taking over. The team hasn’t missed a beat under Boyle, who an assistant during the ABL title run a year ago.
Boyle said that he is the head coach and accountable for the team’s performance, but said assistants Dennis Machado and Sam Peraza will play a big role in the team. Boyle also said Thomas’ legacy continues with the team he put together.
“We’ve got a lot of guys who have come from programs where they teach the right way to play,” Boyle said. “I hate to use the word old school, but they do things like run on and off the field and put the ball in play with two strikes.”
Boyle said Thomas also has brought up a group that is getting along. Many of the players got here for the start of the season, so the team has had time to mesh and hang out on off days.
“So far, it looks like we’ve got a lot of guys buying into the team concept,” Boyle said. “We’ll do things like move the guy over to third and not look to hit the home run. That’s really a plus.”
Boyle said the pitching staff this year is a bit different than the one that powered the Oilers a year ago, but still effective.
“We don’t have the velocity we had last year, but we have pitchers,” Boyle said. “We have guys that really know how to pitch this year. They can get all their pitches over for strikes at any time in the count.”
At the plate, Toby Davis leads the team with a .500 average and is tied for the team lead in RBIs with Michael Dabbs and Steve Goins with 11. Also batting over .300 for the Oilers is Dabbs (.382), Adam Younger (.360), Nick Buss (.357), Goins (.346), Robert Lundy (.364) and Jeremiah Mejia (.346).
“It makes my job easier,” said Boyle, who also coaches third base. “We have a very good offensive club and a lot of guys that handle the bats really well. Now, all I have to do is wing my arm around.”
Boyle was still not sure on Thursday who would get the start on Friday. He said the players are looking forward to the stiffer competition.
“We’re definitely anxious to get into Alaska league play,” he said.
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