Adam Younger of the Peninsula Oilers accepts congratulations on an RBI in the third inning against the Anchorage Bucs on Friday night.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
There’s no rocket science involved, just simple chemistry.
The reigning Alaska Baseball League champion Oilers hammered the Anchorage Bucs 8-1 on Friday night in their league opener, then defeated the Bucs 3-1 on Saturday. The wins extended Peninsula’s winning streak to open the season to 10 at Seymour Memorial Park.
On Friday, host Peninsula had little trouble after establishing a cushion in a four-run third inning and breaking the contest open with a three-run sixth.
“I’m really excited for this team,” said first baseman Toby Davis, who entered with an average over .400 and added three more hits. “We’re clicking on all cylinders right now. As long as we do that, keep getting those hits, it’ll keep going. Everybody is excited it’s a good group.”
Nick Buss bunts the ball in the third inning Friday against the Anchorage Bucs.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Second baseman Kyle Melton, who scored three runs and joined Nick Buss and Jeremiah Mejia with two hits each on Friday, said the cohesiveness is extending beyond the foul lines.
“Whether we’re on the field, or even when we’re off the field we’re hanging out and having a great time,” Melton said.
Three Oilers pitchers struck out 11 and held a Bucs team that was 9-0 with a .347 batting average to six scattered hits, with right-hander Tyler Fleming (3-0) lowering his earned run average to 2.25 after five innings of work. The Oilers rapped a Bucs’ pitching staff with a collective 2.56 earned run average for 12 hits.
Aggressive Oilers’ base-running and miscues by the Bucs both physical and mental fueled each of the host’s rallies. The Oilers’ capitalization was especially significant through three innings, scoring five runs with only two left on base compared to the Bucs’ one run and five left on.
“We’re always glad to have stuff go our way,” Davis said. “That’s our job as hitters, to hit it in play. It’s not going to be that way all the time.”
But for now, the Oilers will ride it.
“You’ve got to be aggressive with the wood bats,” Melton said. “They made a couple of errors in the big innings, and that helped, too.”
The Oilers, who grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first courtesy of a throwing error on a potential inning-ending double play grounder, opened the pivotal third inning with five consecutive hits.
The Bucs compounded the situation by letting a routine hop play the fielder for a hit, not covering first base in time on a sacrifice bunt attempt, and giving up two hits on 0-2 pitches.
Adam Younger singled on the first pitch and Buss drove an 0-2 pitch from Bucs’ right-hander Chu-Kuan Lee (2-1) into left field. Melton attempted to sacrifice, but earned a single when second baseman Eric Wetzel failed to cover first base in time.
Additionally, Lee’s throw hopped into foul ground, allowing Younger to score for a 2-1 lead and leaving two runners in scoring position. Michael Dabbs hammered an 0-2 pitch into the right-field gap, scoring Buss and Melton for a 4-1 cushion.
Davis walloped a double to the left-field gap to run the margin to 5-1.
“We felt they would pitch away from us, and we wanted to drive the ball the other way,” Davis said. “We wanted to hit our pitches, and not take them. And we wanted to stay intense.”
The Oilers erased any remaining suspense in the bottom of the sixth, getting all three of their two-outs hits for the evening none of which left the infield.
With two outs, Melton reached on an infield single, stole second and Dabbs walked. Davis followed with a single to the right-side hole that Wetzel was fortunate to corral. However, Melton rounded third for home without hesitation. Wetzel’s hopping throw to the plate skipped past catcher Buck Afner to the backstop, allowing Melton to score, Dabbs to reach third and Davis second.
Mejia then grounded to Wetzel on a tough chance up the middle. Wetzel’s throw to first was not in time, and first baseman Clay Calfee’s throw to the plate was tardy allowing Davis to score.
The Oilers’ flawless defense included a diving catch by Fleming running to the third-base line on a popped bunt in the fourth inning.
Despite four errors by the team, the Bucs got a pair of fine fielding plays ranging behind second base from shortstop Shan Sullivan from Angelo State (Tex.). Sean Ratliff had two of the Bucs hits.
“It’s a league game, and we’ve got to take care of business,” Melton said of the change from lesser nonleague competition to a formidable ABL foe. “Everybody did their job, and we were able to come out on top.”
On Saturday, Oilers pitchers were able to strand nine Bucs runners in the victory. Chance Deason got the start and pitched five scoreless innings while giving up four hits and striking out two. The Oilers offense, which had a total of eight hits, got Deason an early lead when Buss scored on a single by Dabbs in the first. In the third, the Oilers made it 2-0 when Davis hit into a double play but drove in a run. Peninsula’s final run came in the fifth, when Juan Martinez, who finished 3-for-3, tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Buss.
Anchorage’s Kyle Morgan welcomed reliever Steve Goins to the game in the sixth with a home run the first to leave Seymour Park this year but other than that Oilers relievers were solid. Goins pitched two innings while Joey Haug and Paul Smyth each had a scoreless inning.
The Oilers continue the series with the Bucs today at 2 p.m. at Seymour Park.
OILERS 8, BUCS 1
Bucs AB R H BI Oilers AB R H BI
Wetzel, 2b 3 0 0 0 Buss, cf 5 1 2 0
Schafer, cf 3 0 0 0 Melton, 2b 4 3 2 0
Mendonca, 3b 3 1 0 0 Dabbs, cf 4 2 1 2
Calfee, 1b 3 0 0 0 Davis, 1b 5 1 3 1
Jacobo, dh 3 0 1 0 Mejia, rf 4 0 2 1
Morgan, rf 3 0 1 1 Patterson, c 3 0 0 0
Ullrich, rf 1 0 0 0 Lundy, dh 4 0 0 0
Ratliff, lf 4 0 2 0 Goins, 1b 4 0 1 0
Afner, c 3 0 1 0 Martinez, 1b 0 0 0 0
Lucchesi, c 1 0 0 0 Younger, ss 4 1 1 0
Sullivan, ss 4 0 0 0 ---- -- -- -- --
Totals 31 1 6 1 Totals 37 8 12 4
Anchorage Bucs 001 000 000 1
Oilers 104 003 00x 8
E Sullivan, Mendonca, Lee, Wetzel. DP Bucs. LOB Bucs 8, Oilers 8. 2B Dabbs, Davis, Buss. SB Mendonca, Mejia, Davis, Jacobo, Melton.
IP H R ER BB SO
C-K Lee (L, 2-1) 5 8 5 4 2 6
Carpenter 1 3 3 1 1 1
Reid 2 1 0 0 0 1
Fleming (W, 3-0) 5 3 1 1 4 5
Luna 3 3 0 0 1 4
Wade 1 0 0 0 0 2
A 500 (estimated).
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