The Peninsula Oilers returned to Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai for a Sunday matinee after a six-game road trip, but the visiting Anchorage Bucs spoiled the homecoming, saddling the Oilers with a 2-1 Alaska Baseball League loss.
"They did a good job on the mound. They threw strikes and changed speeds," said Oilers coach Aric Thomas of the Bucs' pitchers who gave up just three hits to Peninsula batters.
"We just got back on our heels a little bit offensively," Thomas said.
Indeed, Anchorage starter Bryan Johnson surrendered just three hits in his 5 1/3 innings of work, facing just one batter over the minimum through five innings. The Oilers got their first baserunner of the game with one out in the second, but the next batter hit into a double play to end the inning.
Robert Perry beat out a bunt single to lead off the fourth inning and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Chris Minaker but was left stranded at second.
The Bucs scored an run in the first inning when Truan Mehl reached on an error, advanced on a sacrifice bunt and stole third base. Mehl scored on a single to right field by Tuffy Gosewisch.
Oilers left fielder David Newby made two putouts to help starter Brian Chambers get out of the inning, the second one a very nice running catch to snare a line drive headed for the gap.
Chambers kept the Bucs at bay over the next three innings, but Mehl scored the Bucs' second run in the top of the fifth after reaching on a single and stealing second. Brandon Roberts singled to score Mehl from second.
Chambers gave way to reliever Steven Wright with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth inning. Wright got a grounder to first to end the threat.
Wright kept the Bucs off the board though the seventh and was replaced by Pat Cassa with two outs in the eighth and a runner on third, but Cassa got a strikeout to end the eighth, then pitched a scoreless ninth.
"Our pitchers did an outstanding job keeping us in the game," Thomas said. "When you only give up two runs in this league, you feel like you should win the game."
The Oilers were able to get to Johnson with one out in the fifth inning when Nick Kliebert hit a bases-loaded infield single. But Johnson made way for Andy Pape, and the Bucs got a force out at home on the next batter, and then a fly ball to left to end the Oilers' best threat. Pape retired the Oilers in order in the seventh and eighth innings, and the lone baserunner the Oilers had in the ninth against closer Jon Wilson was cut down on a game-ending double play.
"We need to be relaxed, we need to be more aggressive at the plate, and we need to put more bunts on the ground," Thomas said.
The Oilers, now 3-3 in league play and 9-5 overall, were coming off a road trip in which they went 2-1 in a three game series with the AIA Fire in Fairbanks, dropped the nonleague Midnight Sun game to the Alaska Goldpanners in Fairbanks, and split a two-game series with the Anchorage Glacier Pilots.
"We felt like it was good," Thomas said of the trip. "It felt like we were gone for a long time. It was a good experience. It's good to start off on the road and then to be home for a while."
The Oilers will be home against the Bucs tonight at 7 p.m., then play three at home against the league-leading Goldpanners before heading to Anchorage for games against the Bucs Friday and Saturday.
Thomas said his squad is learning what it takes to play every day, as opposed to the two or three times a week college teams usually take the field.
"There's more of a professional atmosphere here, with swinging the wood bats and bringing it every day," Thomas said. "They're finding out how to grind it out."
Bucs 2, Oilers 1
Bucs ab r h bi Oilers ab r h bi
Mehl cf 4 2 1 0 Perry cf 4 0 1 0
Roberts dh 2 0 1 1 Minaker ss 3 0 1 0
Gosewisch c 4 0 2 1 Kliebert dh 4 0 1 1
Berglund 1b 5 0 1 0 Dahl rf 3 0 0 0
Omura 2b 3 0 0 0 Laguna 2b 3 0 0 0
Kish lf 4 0 0 0 Hendriks 1b 3 0 0 0
Harper rf 4 0 2 0 D. Newby lf 2 0 0 0
Geldhof 3b 3 0 0 0 Rooney 3b 3 1 0 0
J. Wilson ss 3 0 1 0 Eichel c 1 0 0 0
Becktel ph 1 0 0 0 Zobeck ph 1 0 0 0
Totals 33 2 8 2 Totals 27 1 3 1
Anchorage 100 010 000 2
Peninsula 000 001 000 1
E Chambers, Eichel, Omura, Laguna. DP Bucs 2. LOB Bucs 11, Oilers 6. SB Mehl 2, Gosewisch, Roberts, Geldhof. CS Joe. Wilson, D. Newby, Roberts. S Roberts 2, Minaker.
ip h r er bb so
Johnson, W 5 1-3 3 1 0 2 2
Pape 2 2-3 0 0 0 0 2
Jon Wilson, S 1 0 0 0 1 0
Chambers, L (0-2) 5 2-3 4 2 1 4 0
Wright 2 2 0 0 1 1
Cassa 1 1-3 2 0 0 1 1
HBP by Johnson (Laguna). PB Eichel.
Umpires Wood, home; Jones, bases. Time 2:50.
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