Oilers keep rolling

Peninsula takes pair of games from Bucs

Posted: Sunday, July 09, 2000

Sometimes, it's with pitching and defense. Other nights, it's the offense that gets the job done.

The Peninsula Oilers seem to be getting it done all the way around, though, downing the Anchorage Bucs on 9-1 on Friday and 7-0 on Saturday at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Alaska Baseball League action.

"We're on a good roll -- I'm not going to deny it," said Oilers head coach Gary Adcock following Saturday's game. "We're playing well. Ever since those first two league losses, we've put together a good approach to every game.

"We've only been out of one league game and as a coach, just give me a chance to win the ballgame, and that's all you can ask for."

Peninsula starting pitcher Chris Mabeus gave the Oilers all the opportunity they would need on Saturday, mostly by making sure that the Bucs didn't get any opportunities themselves.

Mabeus three-hit the Bucs over eight innings, striking out four and walking one. Stephen Copeland came on to pitch a perfect ninth to complete the shutout.

"I was hitting my spots," said the Oilers 6-foot-3, 210-pound righty. "I was able to establish my fastball from the get-go and the splitty and the slider came off of that.

"Anybody can be successful if they hit their spots. It's just keeping the pitch down. If a pitch is down, they can hit it hard, but they're going to hit it into the ground."

In fact, Mabeus got the Bucs to hit into 12 ground-ball outs. The Bucs managed just seven base runners for the ballgame. Three reached with singles, one drew a walk, one was hit by a pitch, one reached on an error and one was safe on a fielder's choice.

Of those, catcher Joe Hietpas took care of two, gunning them down trying to steal second. Only two runners advanced past first base -- one was stranded at third in the seventh while the other was left at second in the eighth.

The Oilers gave Mabeus all the cushion he could want, striking for six runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Jeremy Reed and John Kaye hit RBI singles in the inning while Luke Simmons had an RBI double and Brad Carlson drove in two with a double.

"It helped out a lot to get the run support early," Mabeus said. "After that, it was just putting the ball in play."

Mabeus also got a boost from a large contingent of family and friends at the ballpark to watch him pitch, including his newborn son, Boston.

"I was glad to have my home-boy there," Mabeus said.

Adcock said he's thrilled to see Mabeus mature as a pitcher -- and stay with the Oilers for three seasons.

" Chris has pitched extremely well all season," Adcock said. "He was disappointed with the draft, but my challenge to him was that I planned to use him as a starting pitcher.

"He challenges batters, he works at a good rate, and he's a very competitive kid. I'm a firm believer that Chris has made himself into the pitcher he is today. He's gone from throwing about eight innings all season the first year he was with us to being a No. 1 starter, and it's all because of hard work."

Friday evening's game had something for everybody -- stellar defensive play, excellent pitching, good hitting and just enough controversy to keep things interesting.

The Oilers plated three runs in the first inning on three hits. Danny Garcia led off the frame with a single, stole second and advanced to third on sacrifice bunt by Jeremy Reed.

Hunter Brown followed with a single to score Garcia. Luke Simmons singled and Jeff Jones drew a walk to load the bases for Tim McCabe, who also worked a base on balls to drive in a run. Chad Sterbens singled to drive in the final run of the inning.

Oilers starting pitcher Tyler Johnson went to work with the comfortable lead and didn't let the Bucs get back into the game, giving up one run on one hit in six innings of work. Johnson struck out six and walked three.

Frank Esposito and Stephen Copeland combined to shut out the Bucs the rest of the way. Esposito gave up two hits in two innings of work while Copeland got three ground balls -- including a rare ground ball out to right field -- to end the ballgame.

The Oilers gave their pitchers plenty of defensive support as well, including a highlight-reel catch by Jackson Coleman in the bottom of the eighth.

Coleman's catch was made all the more dramatic with Bucs runners on second and third with two outs. Anchorage pinch hitter Brad Hassey drove a ball deep to left-center field that looked like it would slip into the gap.

Coleman caught up to the ball, though, and covered the last few yards in the air to come up with the diving catch to end the inning and the Anchorage threat.

"Jackson can do so many things," Adcock said. "He can bring a spark to the lineup with his bat, or he can give us a late-inning defensive spark. He's a really valuable part of the team."

The Oilers had some big hits of their own to pad their lead.

Jeremy Reed hit an RBI triple in the bottom of the fifth inning and scored on a ground out by Simmons and Randall Shelley notched a two-run single in the eighth to help the Oilers put the game out of reach.

Shelley's hit wasn't without its controversy, though. After reaching on a walk and advancing on a Carlson sacrifice bunt, Coleman found himself on second base with Shelley at the plate. Shelley chopped the ball toward short, where base runner, fielder and ball all converged at the same time.

The Bucs argued that Coleman touched the batted ball, but the umpires didn't see it that way and Coleman and Jones scored on the play.

The Oilers are now a league-leading 12-3 in the ABL and 21-5 overall. The series finale with the Bucs starts at 2 p.m. this afternoon at Coral Seymour Memorial Park.

"Baseball is a humbling game," Adcock said. "As good as it's going right now, the game doesn't let you continue like this forever. There's going to come a time when we're going to struggle -- it could be next week, it could be tomorrow -- who knows? Then it's going to be gut-check time."

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