The Peninsula Oilers were happy to return to the friendly confines of Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai Thursday, defeating the Anchorage Bucs in a 2-1 Alaska Baseball League nail-biter.
"We play good at home," said Oilers coach Kyle DiEduardo. "We've been playing good at home all season. Hopefully, we can keep it going for 11 in a row."
The Oilers plated the go-ahead run in the bottom of the seventh with a gutsy play -- a perfectly executed suicide squeeze.
Brent Lewis led off the Oilers' half of the seventh with a double to deep center field and advanced to third on a nicely played sacrifice bunt by Dusty Bensko.
The next Oilers batter, Andy Dahl, laid down a soft bunt back toward the pitcher's mound. Lewis dove safely into home while Dahl was safe at first on what was scored a fielder's choice as the Bucs pitcher tried to get the ball back to the catcher on the play.
"To tell you the truth, I was just worried that I got the sign right," said Lewis, a recent addition to the Oilers roster, of standing on third when the squeeze play was called. "Andy Dahl did a great job getting that bunt down. That's the first squeeze I've been in since I can remember. In college, with the metal bats, you don't bunt as much."
DiEduardo said initially, he was reluctant to call for a squeeze.
"It ran through my head, but all season, we haven't been good at bunting," DiEduardo said. "Andy's been pretty good, and I knew when he was ahead in the count, they were probably going to throw a fastball. I put it on and it worked."
The Oilers then got out of a jam in the top of the eighth as the Bucs put runners on first and third with one out. Oilers relief pitcher Mike Ekstrom got a ground ball out, and catcher Garrett Schoenberger took care of out No. 3, pouncing on a passed ball and tagging out a Bucs runner trying to get home on the play.
Oilers starter Chad Decker went six innings, allowing one run on four hits, striking out five and walking two. Stephen Kahn pitched an inning of relief, picking up the win, Ekstrom threw an inning of scoreless relief and Kyle Wilson pitched the ninth for the save.
"We pitched real well -- all the guys that threw," DiEduardo said.
The Oilers scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the first inning. Joe Holland led off the frame with a walk and advanced to second on a single by David Uribes.
After a fly-ball out, Josh Lex grounded to third base. Uribes was forced out at second, but the throw to first to complete the double play sailed high, allowing Holland to score. Lex tried for second on the play, but was tagged out to end the inning.
The Bucs tied the game in the top of the third. Joey Wilson hit a two-out single and stole second, then scored on a single by Brian Cleveland.
The win was a good start for what looks to be a huge homestand for the Oilers. The Oilers, 8-11 in league play, are battling the Bucs to get out of the ABL cellar, and, entering Thursday's game, were just 3 1/2 games out of first.
"Since I've been here, as a team, we've played solid baseball," Lewis said. "We're in last place, but we're only three or four games out with a lot to play. We can make a run at it."
The Oilers have won four of their last six games and will look to make it two in a row tonight against the Bucs at 7 p.m. at Coral Seymour Memorial Park. The series continues Saturday at 7 p.m.
OILERS 2, BUCS 1
Bucs ab r h bi Oilers ab r h bi
J.Wilson 2b 5 1 1 0 Holland 2b 3 1 0 0
Cleveland ss 4 0 0 0 Uribes ss 3 0 1 0
Suzuki c 2 0 1 0 Buck lf 2 0 0 0
Jacobitz 1b 4 0 0 0 Lex dh 4 0 0 0
Gulick cf 3 0 1 0 B.Lewis 3b 4 1 2 0
Thompson 3b 4 0 0 0 Bensko 1b 2 0 1 0
Mehl lf 4 0 2 0 Dahl rf 2 0 0 1
Scobee rf 3 0 1 0 Schoenberger c 3 0 0 0
J.Lewis dh 2 0 0 0 Frazee cf 3 0 2 0
Grooms pr 0 0 0 0 --- - - - -
Totals 31 1 7 0 Totals 26 2 6 1
Anchorage 001 000 000 -- 1
Peninsula 100 000 10x -- 2
E -- Wilson, Uribes. DP -- Bucs 2, Oilers 1. LOB -- Bucs 9, Oilers 5. 2B -- B. Lewis 2. SB -- Uribes, Wilson, Mehl. CS -- Gulick, Mehl. S -- Bensko, Dahl.
IP H R ER BB SO
Cruz, L 7 1-3 5 2 1 3 3
Bernabi 2-3 0 0 0 0 0
Decker 6 4 1 1 2 5
Kahn, W 1 1 0 0 1 0
Ekstrom 1 1 0 0 0 0
K. Wilson, S 1 1 0 0 1 0
HBP -- by Decker (Suzuki), by K. Wilson (Scobee). PB -- Schoenberger.
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