The Peninsula Oilers late-game rally fell short on Saturday as they lost 5-4 in Game 1 of a five-game series to the Mat-Su Miners at Coral Seymour Memorial Park. The Miners improve to an Alaska Baseball League best 10-2 and 12-3 overall. The Oilers fall to 9-4 and 10-4-1. Games 2 and 3 will be played today in a doubleheader with the first beginning at 1 p.m.
Trailing 5-0, the Oilers broke the shutout in the bottom of the eighth inning. Nathan Theunissen drew a leadoff walk. After advancing to second on a wild pitch, Theunissen scored on an error with Justin Charles at the plate. Mike Miller followed with an RBI single to cut the lead to 5-2 in favor of the Miners.
Patrick Wisdom cut the deficit to two with a one-out, RBI triple to score Stephen Piscotty in the bottom the ninth. Theunissen followed with an RBI single, making it a one-run game. But Miners reliever James Allen retired Kyle Leon and Charles to end the game.
A point of controversy arose in the eighth inning. With two on, Garrett Wittels hit a deep shot to center field. Pablo Bermudez made the catch but dropped the ball moments later. The umpire ruled he had possession long enough for the out. Ryan Gebhart got back to first but Miller was forced out at second for the double play. The second of two Oilers coaches was ejected following the play.
The first ejection came in the sixth inning. After Charles was called out attempting to steal second, Oilers head coach Dennis Machado sprinted out of the dugout to question the call. He was thrown out after a brief argument with the field umpire.
Mat-Su starter Joe Bircher was almost unhittable through six innings of work. He gave up just one hit, no runs, two walks and had four strikeouts.
"Bircher came out and gave us a great start," Miners assistant coach Craig Ringe said.
Ringe said pitching is key in the ABL.
"It all comes on the mound," he said. "We got to get a little better out of the bullpen."
The two Mat-Su relievers combined to give up five of Peninsula's six hits and all four runs.
Ringe said he was not surprised to see the Oilers make a late-game push.
"They will come at you for nine innings," he said.
In the face of the rally, the Miners did not back down, Ringe said.
"I thought we competed extremely hard," he said.
After Oilers starter Cody Kendall walked Nick DeBiasse to load the bases with one out in the first inning, Bermudez hit an RBI fielders choice to score the game's first run. Kendall struck out the next batter to end the inning and leave two Miners stranded. Mat-Su led 1-0 after the first.
Mat-Su went back to work in the third inning. After a leadoff single by Andy Mee, DeBiasse singled. Though Mee was tagged out as he made his way to third, the umpire ruled he was interfered with and awarded Mee the base. Bermudez then hit into a double play, and Mee scored to give Mat-Su a 2-0 lead.
Mat-Su's pinch running substitution paid off in the seventh inning. Matt Applegate took over after Ryan Kaup hit a leadoff single. Matt Wessinger's sacrifice bunt moved Applegate into scoring position. Bret Schwartz ripped a shot up the middle to bring Applegate home and give the Miners a 3-0 advantage.
Oilers reliever Taylor Garrison walked the bases loaded with one out in the top of the eighth. After getting Quinn Pippin to strike out, Wessinger drove in two runs with a single. The Miners led 5-0 going into the bottom of the eighth.
Miners 5, Oilers 4, 9 inn.
Miners AB R H BI Oilers AB R H BI
Schwartz ss 4 0 2 1 Miller ss 3 0 1 1
Ruch lf 5 1 0 0 Gebhart cf 2 0 0 0
Mee rf 5 1 1 0 Wittels 3b 4 0 0 0
DeBiasse 1b 4 0 1 0 Piscotty lf 4 1 2 0
Bermudez cf 3 1 1 1 Popick rf 3 0 0 0
Thigpen c 3 1 0 0 Wisdom dh 4 1 1 1
Ozanne dh 3 0 0 0 Thensen 1b 3 1 1 1
Kaup 3b 3 0 1 0 Leon c 4 0 1 0
Wessinger 2b 3 0 1 2 Charles 2b 3 1 0 0
Applegate 0 1 0 0
Pippin 1 0 0 0
Totals 34 5 7 4 Totals 30 4 6 3
Miners 101 000 120 -- 5
Peninsula 000 000 022 -- 4
E -- Kaup, Bermudez, Charles, Wittels. DP -- Miners 1; Oilers 1. LOB -- Miners 8, Oilers 6. 3B -- Wisdom. S -- Wessinger. SB -- Wessinger, Bermudez. CS -- Miller, Piscotty, Charles.
IP H R ER BB SO
Bircher 6 1 0 0 2 4
Johnson 2 2 2 1 2 0
Allen 1 3 2 2 0 0
Kendall 6 4 2 0 2 4
Moore 1 2 1 1 0 1
Garrison 2 1 2 2 3 2
WP -- Johnson. HBP -- by Bircher (Miller).
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