Tracy sparkles in debutBy WILL MORROWPeninsula ClarionChad Tracy announced his presence with authority Friday night at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai.
With the Peninsula Oilers tied with the Anchorage Glacier Pilots in the bottom of the ninth inning, Tracy calmly strode to the plate, watched the first pitch, then smashed the second pitch he saw over the left-field fence to give the Oilers a 10-9 win in Alaska Baseball League play.
Oh, and by the way, Tracy's walk-off home run also completed the cycle as the designated hitter out of Pepperdine University notched a single, double and triple in his previous at-bats all in his first game with the Oilers.
"Welcome to Kenai, Chad, where ya been?" Oilers head coach Mike Coutts said with a grin following the game.
In fact, Tracy has had a perfectly good reason for missing the first half of the Oilers' season: He had a tryout with Team USA. While he didn't make the cut with Team USA, his arrival in Kenai has given an immediate boost to the Oilers lineup something the team desperately needed after losing the last five games of an eight-game road trip.
"We've had a lot of tough games. It's good to have Chad come out and have one heck of a game in his first game here," said Peninsula's Nick Kliebert.
Tracy connected for a double in the first inning, driving in two runs and scoring as the Oilers took a 3-1 lead. He added a two-run single in the second inning, then hit a triple and scored on a ground-out by Kliebert in the fifth.
Oilers starting pitcher Jarrod Dumont struggled, though, surrendering five runs on six hits in the second inning. Dumont exited after two innings of work, and the Glacier Pilots touched up reliever Matt Meyer for a pair of runs in the fifth.
After falling behind 8-5, Tracy's run in the fifth pulled the Oilers to within two, and Jared McGuire doubled and scored in the sixth to narrow the gap to one.
Matt Inouye then gave the Oilers the lead for the second time in the game with a two-run homer to left field in the bottom of the seventh.
"Our bats came alive," Kliebert said. "Matt needed to get one. Hopefully, we can string some together."
Chase Christianson, the fourth Oilers pitcher of the game, retired the Glacier Pilots in order in the eighth, but Adam Reifer, brought on as the closer in the ninth, gave up a run on three hits a nice defensive play by shortstop Jake Kahaulelio running out toward center field to make an over-the-shoulder basket catch on a soft line drive saved at least one run to tie the game and send it to the bottom of the ninth.
Tracy said he tried not to think about completing the cycle in his final at-bat in the ninth inning, but admitted it was in the back of his mind. Players in the dugout, meanwhile, were sure he would accomplish the feat.
"I just wanted to get on base and win the game. I knew (about the cycle), but I tried to keep it in the back of my mind," Tracy said.
Tracy finished 4-for-5 with three runs and five runs driven in while Inouye provided a run and three RBI with his 2-for-4 night. John McCarthy also had a pair of hits, scored twice and drove in a run.
The game was not without some spectacular defense. In addition to Kahaulelio's gem in the ninth, Glacier Pilots center fielder Jacob Luque made a spectacular diving catch just shy of the warning track to end the eighth inning, robbing Kahaulelio of extra bases and an RBI in the process.
The game also had some controversy as Coutts was ejected in the bottom of the seventh after directing a critical comment toward the home plate umpire.
Tracy said he had been anxious to get out on the field and was still adjusting to swinging a wood bat. He added that he'll check in with his father, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Jim Tracy, for some advice as the season progresses.
"I'll call him tonight. He'll help any way he can," Tracy said.
As for the rest of the Oilers, they were happy to get home, get a day off and start a 10-game homestand off on a winning note. Coutts said his squad would start the second half of the season with a fresh attitude, building on the positives to come out of the first half of the season and working to improve in areas that were lacking.
"We'll take care of ourselves. We can't control what anyone else does, so we'll see what happens," Coutts said.
Notes: Nick Kliebert has been playing first base for the past few games and has now played six positions for the Oilers this season. "I just come to the ballpark and see which glove I'm going to use," Kliebert said.
OILERS 10, GLACIER PILOTS 9
Pilots ab r h bi Oilers ab r h bi
Spiers ss 5 1 2 2 McCrthy cf 5 2 2 1
Luque cf 4 1 1 1 Gipson 2b 5 0 3 0
Valencia 3b 5 1 1 0 Kahallio ss 5 1 0 0
Canham c 5 0 2 3 Tracy dh 5 3 4 5
Salotti 1b 5 0 1 0 Kliebert 1b 3 1 0 1
VnOstrnd rf 5 1 4 0 Inouye c 4 1 2 3
Dovel dh 4 1 1 0 Salas lf 4 0 2 0
Jones lf 4 2 4 2 McGre 3b 4 1 1 0
Prewitt 2b 2 1 0 0 Rye rf 2 1 1 0
Zmmrmn pr 0 1 0 0 Laguna ph 2 0 0 0
Totals 39 9 16 8 Totals 39 10 15 10
Anchorage 150 020 001 9
Peninsula 320 011 201 10
E Valencia, Spiers, Meyer. DP Pilots 1, Oilers 1. LOB Pilots 10, Oilers 6. SB Tracy, Spiers 2. 2B Tracy, Canham, Salotti, Jones, McGuire. 3B Tracy. HR Inouye, Tracy. S Luque, Jones, Prewitt.
ip h r er bb so
Cuthbertson 1 2/3 8 5 5 0 1
Satow 5 5 4 4 0 4
Manning, L 1 1/3 2 1 1 0 1
Dumont 2 8 6 6 0 2
Meyer 3 4 2 2 2 1
Rider 1 1 0 0 0 0
Christianson 2 0 0 0 1 0
Reifer, W 1 3 1 1 0 1
Rider pitched to one batter in the 7th inning; Manning pitched to one batter in the 9th inning.
HBP by Satow (Kliebert). WP Christianson, Reifer. Blk. Meyer.
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