Ugly win has Oilers at top of ABL

Wild game sees Peninsula move into first place tie with Anchorage Glacier Pilots

Posted: Monday, July 03, 2006

On a beautiful day for a ball game, the Peninsula Oilers and Anchorage Glacier Pilots treated baseball fans to some ugly baseball Sunday afternoon.

For the home fans, however, things turned out just fine, as the Oilers managed to squeak out a 7-6 win and move into a tie for first place in the Alaska Baseball League.

“That’s bad defense on both sides,” Oilers head coach Thad Johnson said following the game, which featured seven errors, three passed balls, two wild pitches and six hit batters.

The Oilers are now 6-5 in the ABL, tied with the Pilots.

Peninsula has won five games in a row.

The Oilers jumped out to the early lead, getting four runs in the second inning on just one hit. The runs came courtesy of Anchorage started Javier Martinez, who struggled mightily to find the strike zone.

Following a sacrifice fly RBI by Jim Pollack, Martinez essentially scored the next three Peninsula runs by walking in one run, hitting a batter to score a run and throwing a wild pitch.

Peninsula went up 5-0 in the third on a sacrifice fly by third baseman Matt Clark that scored left fielder David Newby. Martinez figured prominently in the inning, helping Newby advance to third base by walking Andy Preston and hitting Jordan Opdyke.

Peninsula couldn’t hold the lead for long, as the Pilots plated three runs in the fourth and two in the fifth — all of them unearned.

The Pilots took the lead in the seventh inning when Anchorage designated hitter Matt McGraw scored after Clark couldn’t handle Newby’s throw from the outfield on a single by Ryne Price.

Undaunted by blowing a five-run lead, the Oilers came out swinging in the bottom half of the inning, getting a leadoff double from Jake Kahaluielo.

Kahaluielo then scored on an RBI single from Newby, who advanced to second base on a throwing error. Newby went to third on a sacrifice by right fielder Brian Van Kirk, then scored on a wild pitch from Anchorage reliever Travis Hill — with an assist from the Peninsula coaching staff.

On the previous pitch, Opdyke appeard to get hit in the arm, but was ruled to have swung at the ball.

Both Johnson and assistant coach Brian Hickman argued the call for several minutes, talking to both the home plate and field umpires — effectively icing Hill in the process.

“It ended up turning into a strategy thing,” Johnson said. “We were trying to ice him to some degree.”

With an 8-7 lead, Matt Trink pitched two scoreless innings to get the save. Ricky Heines got his second win of the year, giving up two hits over three and a third innings and no earned runs.

Johnson said the ugly win was a positive for the Oilers, who he said displayed a lot of mental toughness to prevail under odd circumstances.

“In a game like this, whatever team stays locked in mentally is going to get the win,” he said. “We found a way.”

Next up for the Oilers are the Athletes in Action Fire, who come to town for a four-game series beginning at 7 p.m. July 4 at Coral Seymour Memorial Ballpark in Kenai.

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