Oilers drop two close ballgames

Posted: Thursday, July 03, 2003

Following the completion of a game which began the previous evening, the Peninsula Oilers dropped a 12-inning marathon to the Anchorage Glacier Pilots to lose two one-run games in a single day Wednesday.

After Tuesday's game was postponed with the score tied at 1-1 in the sixth inning, the teams returned to the field Wednesday afternoon to complete action after a 20-hour rain delay. The score remained tied until the top of the ninth inning, when Pilots first baseman Haas Pratt singled to left field off Oilers reliever Kyle Wilson to open the inning.

Pratt was replaced by Oregon State freshman Jackoby Ellsbury, who advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt by second baseman Jon Dyson. A sharp single by third baseman Jonathan Oller then sent Ellsbury to third.

Wilson was replaced by Mike Eckstrom on the mound, who issued an intentional walk to catcher Cory Vanderhook to load the bases. That brought up Pilots shortstop Jose Ortega, who hit a pop fly to third base.

Oilers third baseman Dusty Bensko allowed the ball to drop, and Ortega was called out on an infield fly. However, Ellsbury took advantage of some miscommunication in the Oilers infield and raced home ahead of shortstop David Uribes' throw home to give the Pilots a 2-1 lead.

Pilots reliever Andy Shipman pitched a perfect bottom of the inning, getting the Oilers to hit three ground ball outs to seal the Pilots victory.

In the second game Wednesday, it was another Oilers mistake which led to an exciting 12-inning win for Anchorage.

With two outs and the score tied at 2-2 in the top of the inning, Dyson hit a ground ball to the Oilers' newly acquired first baseman Brent Lewis, which should have ended the inning. Lewis, playing in his first ABL game since joining the team from Mississippi State, mishandled the ball and allowed Dyson to reach on an error.

Next up, Ortega hit a fly ball off pitcher Mike Ekstrom that seemed to momentarily fool right fielder Andy Dahl. Dahl started in on the play, then was unable to recover as a strong wind pushed the ball just over his head and off his glove. Dahl scored from first on the play, giving Ortega a game-winning RBI double.

Pilots reliever Josh Wilson of Eagle River pitched a perfect bottom half of the inning to pick up his first win of the season. Ekstrom, who gave up just one hit over three innings of relief, was saddled with his second loss of the season.

The wild finish overshadowed dominant pitching performances by both starting pitchers.

Oilers starter Jake Postlewaite pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing just three hits before being lifted for a reliever in the eighth. Postlewaite struck out five and retired 12 consecutive Pilots during one stretch, before surrendering an infield single to Ellsbury. Postlewaite never even allowed a Pilots base runner to get past second base.

Even Postlewaite's stellar performance couldn't quite compare to Pilots starter Hector Ambriz. The 6-foot-1 right-hander out of UCLA threw just 93 pitches over nine scoreless innings before being lifted in the tenth for Ricky Fairchild. Although Ambriz was credited with a no decision, his start was more than worthy of a victory. In addition to striking out six Oilers hitters, Ambriz walked none and allowed just four Oilers to reach base on the night.

Ambriz stood to get the victory with Anchorage leading 2-0 after getting two runs in the top half of the inning. However, Fairchild blew his save opportunity by hitting the first, then walking the second batters he faced. A Ben Fritz single scored both runs, but the Oilers were unable to get another run after Wilson came in to replace Fairchild.

The score then remained 2-2 until Ortega's 12th-inning RBI sealed the victory for the Pilots.

With the losses, Peninsula dropped to 4-9 in league play, 10-14 overall. The Pilots moved to 8-5 in the ABL and 11-9 overall. The Oilers are now in last place, while the Pilots moved to within a half game of league-leading Athletes in Action.

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