The Peninsula Oilers finished their road trip to Fairbanks still within striking distance of an Alaska Baseball League title.
On the final day of a trip where the team played 10 games in seven days, the Oilers lost to the Athletes in Action Fire, 4-3, before defeating the Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks, 7-3. Both games were at Growden Memorial Park in Fairbanks on Wednesday.
The Oilers finished 4-6 on the trip, going 2-3 against the Fire and 2-3 against the Panners. The Panners had not lost any league games at home before the Oilers beat them Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Mat-Su Miners topped the Anchorage Bucs on Wednesday to move into first place in the ABL with a 16-7 record. The Goldpanners are a half game back at 14-6, while the Oilers are two games back at 16-11. The Oilers start a five-game homestand with 7 p.m. contests against the Bucs on Friday and Saturday.
In the first game of the day, the Fire jumped out to an early lead and the Oilers were never able to complete the comeback.
AIA jumped all over Oilers starter and loser Kolby Moore, who pitched one inning and gave up two runs on two hits.
The Oilers cut the gap to 2-1 in the top of the fifth against AIA starter Tyler Bersano, who would go on to get the win. Tyler Grimes had a ground-out that scored Sean Madigan.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Fire padded their lead on Oilers reliever Mike Wolford, scoring two runs.
The Oilers tried to claw their way back. In the sixth, Garrett Wittels scored on a ground-out by Patrick Wisdom to cut the gap to 4-2.
In the seventh, Madigan led off with a walk to chase Bersano in favor of TJ Swank. Jeff Popick singled and Kyle Leon was hit by a pitch as the Oilers put the tying run on second with nobody out.
A bit of bad luck then struck when Grimes lined out to first base and Leon was caught off first for a double play. Michael Miller and Ryan Gebhart then both walked to force home a run and keep the bases loaded. However, Swank was able to strike out Wittels looking to end the game.
In the second game, the Oilers were able to complete a comeback against the Panners thanks to the home-run ball. Wisdom homered twice in the game, while Jeff Popick went yard once.
Fairbanks jumped on top 3-0 in the first inning off Geoff Broussard, who would settle in and get the win, going five innings and giving up just the three runs on three hits. Chad Smith and Jorge Marban would continue to shut the Panners down with an inning each of scoreless ball.
The Oilers started their comeback in the second against Panners starter Zach Vawter-Scoggins. Stephen Piscotty walked and Wisdom homered to cut the gap to 3-2.
In the fourth, Jeff Popick touched up Vawter-Scoggins for another home run to tie the game.
In the fifth, the Oilers kept slugging away against Panners reliever Derek Grieve, who would take the loss. Wittels reached on an error and Piscotty singled. Wisdom then cleared the bases with a tater for a 6-3 lead.
In the sixth, the Oilers padded their lead when Gebhart singled to scored Madigan.
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