The Peninsula Oilers suffered their first Alaska Baseball League loss of the season, dropping a 6-4 decision to the Athletes in Action Fire Wednesday at Growden Memorial Park in Fairbanks.
The loss drops the Oilers to 2-1 in league play and 8-5 overall. The Oilers took two of three in their series with the Fire and after an off day today will visit Mulcahy Stadium in Anchorage to face the Glacier Pilots Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m.
The Fire were able to jump out to an early lead with a run off Oilers starter Pat Cassa in the bottom of the first inning.
The Oilers turned a double play to get out of the second inning but a broken-bat single drove in a run to give AIA a 2-0 lead in the third.
The Oilers tied the game with a pair of runs in the top of the sixth inning. Patrick Rooney, who had reached on an error and advanced on a passed ball, was tagged out at the plate trying to score from second on a single by Joey Hendricks. Hendricks was able to move over to second on the throw home and scored when Robert Perry hit a ground-rule double, one-hopping a hit over the outfield fence.
Nathan Faulkner followed with a double to plate Perry.
AIA regained the lead in the bottom of the sixth, though, as AIA scored a run on a single with two outs, then loaded the bases against Cassa. Michael Martin came on in relief, but the Fire got another single to score two more runs before the Oilers could get out of the inning.
AIA added a run in the bottom of the seventh inning, but the Oilers were able to cut the deficit to two with two runs in the top of the eighth. Faulkner hit a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded to score one run, and Andy Dahl drove in another with a two-out double, but the Oilers left runners stranded at second and third.
The Oilers dodged a bullet in the bottom of the eighth when AIA was able to load the bases with no outs against Peninsula reliever Eric Butkiewicz on two errors and a bunt single. Right fielder Rocky Laguna caught a shallow fly ball off the bat of the next AIA hitter, though, and fired the ball home to Hendricks, who tagged out the runner tagging up from third base at the plate.
Nick Kliebert then made a nifty play at shortstop to end the inning.
The Oilers were unable to rally in the ninth, though. Rooney drew a two-out walk, but that was all Peninsula could muster.
Cassa took the loss, giving up nine hits and five runs in 5 2-3 innings. Cassa struck out three and walked four. Martin worked 1 1-3 innings, allowing a run on three hits and walking one, and Butkiewicz gave up one hit in his inning of work.
Perry, Faulkner and Dahl were each 2-for-4 from the plate for the Oilers.
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