The Peninsula Oilers overcame an early deficit Saturday to defeat the Anchorage Glacier Pilots 6-4 in an Alaska Baseball League game at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai.
The win came on the heels of Friday's 11-3 victory over the Glacier Pilots as the Oilers improve to 12-8 in league play. The three-game series concludes today at 2 p.m.
"Things are going good. The team is starting to hit its stride," said Oilers head coach Aric Thomas. "We're playing good baseball. We're pitching and playing defense. We're not getting beat by walks on the mound, and the hitters are swinging the bats well."
The Glacier Pilots struck first as Matt Baty and Ritchie Price hit back to back singles to lead off the game. Baty eventually scored on a balk call, and Price scored on a single by Brandon Godfrey.
Anchorage added a run in the second when Derek Schermerhorn hit a double, took third on a sacrifice bunt and scored when the Oilers failed to cover home on the play.
The Oilers tied the game in the bottom of the third, inning, though, as Patrick Rooney and Matt Eichel, hitting eighth and ninth in the Oilers order, each singled to start the frame.
Patrick Rooney of the Peninsula Oilers tries unsuccessfully to avoid the tag at home from Anchorage Glacier Pilots catcher Tito Cruz in the second inning Friday.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
A sacrifice bunt by Andy Dahl moved the runners to second and third. Rooney scored on a passed ball, and after a groundball out, walks to Felipe Garcia and Nathan Faulkner loaded the bases for Chris Minaker. Minaker delivered a fly ball into shallow left field and the Pilots couldn't make the play, allowing two runs to score.
Thomas said the batters in the bottom third of the order have been having good at-bats all season and have been doing their job, moving runners along and turning over the order.
"We feel like we're strong one through nine. We've got a chance to score with whoever's up in the order," Thomas said.
With the game all tied up, Oilers starter Matt Leva settled in, retiring the Pilots in order in the third, fourth and fifth innings.
The Oilers took their first lead of the game in the bottom of the fifth inning. With one out, Nick Kliebert drew a walk, Garcia beat out an infield single and Faulkner was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
That chased Pilots starter Michael Zagurski. Jeff Daneff came on in relief but the Oilers have thrived on relief pitching this season, and Minaker greeted Daneff with a run-scoring single. Hendricks drove in another run with a sacrifice fly, and Shawn Scobee collected his second hit foe the Oilers with a double to center field, scoring the third run of the inning and giving the Oilers a 6-3 lead.
The Pilots touched up Leva for a run in the sixth, and after he issued a walk to lead off the seventh, Eric Butkiewicz came on in relief.
Butkiewicz gave up a one-out single, but the Oilers helped him out of the inning with a well-turned double play.
"My approach is just to throw strikes and let the defense make the plays," Butkiewicz said of always entering the game with runners on base. "The defense has been phenomenal behind me that's part of being a team game."
Butkiewicz held the Pilots scoreless through the eighth inning, and Tim Robertson came on for the ninth, recording a hard-earned save after walking the first two batters of the inning.
Robertson got a strikeout to end the ballgame.
Thomas said that relief pitching has been a strength for the Oilers all season, and credited pitching coach Thad Johnson with getting the staff prepared for each game.
"They have more confidence when they know how to attack a batter before throwing a pitch," Thomas said.
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