Minaker's clutch hit leads Oilers into first

Posted: Monday, July 12, 2004

An eighth inning single by Peninsula Oilers shortstop Chris Minaker spoiled a fine pitching performance by Pilots starter Eric Werdekemper, and the Oilers swept their weekend series with the Pilots with a 5-4 win Sunday at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai.

Werdekemper gave up just six hits through 7 1/3 innings, and was staked to a 4-2 lead before finally tiring in the eighth, giving the Oilers an opportunity to get back into the game. After retiring the leadoff hitter in the inning, Werdekemper walked Andy Dahl, who then advanced to third on Felipe Garcia's single up the middle.

The Pilots brought in relief pitcher Cory Madden, who pushed Faulkner to a full count before the big first baseman knocked a sharp single off Madden's bare hand to score Dahl. Garcia went to third on the play, and Faulkner advanced to second base on the play when the Pilots got caught without anyone covering the base.

Minaker then came through with his game-winner, lining a sharp single past Baty that scored Garcia and Faulkner. Minaker was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double, but the damage was done, as Robertson was able to shut down the Pilots in the ninth.

Anchorage got to Oilers starter Brian Chambers early, picking up one run in the first inning and two in the second by getting the leadoff hitter on base both times.

Chambers was chased from the game with two runners on base in the third inning in favor of reliever Eric Butkiewitcz. Butkiewicz did a good job in relief, shutting the Pilots down by getting two quick outs to end the Anchorage threat.

The Oilers finally got to Pilots starter Werdekemper in the fourth innning courtesy of Faulkner, who hit a towering solo home run to left field in the bottom half of the inning.

The Oilers then got their second run of the inning on a Rocky Laguna sacrifice fly that scored Minaker.

Butkiewicz and Werdekemper settled in after that, as neither team scored until the Pilots scratched out their fourth run on an RBI bloop single by second baseman Matt Baty.

Robertson came in for Butkiewicz in the seventh, holding the Pilots scoreless despite giving up two hits in the inning. He ended up pitching three scoreless innnings to pick up the win.

With the victory, the Oilers moved to 13-8 in Alaska League play on the season to remain in a virtual tie for first place with the Alaska Goldpanners (10-6), who were 8-7 winners Sunday over the Mat-Su Miners.

After sweeping the Pilots, the Oilers have now won five in a row and have two days off before heading for the Valley, where they'll play three games against the Miners before heading to Anchorage to face the Bucs on Saturday. Peninsula will return home July 20, when they'll begin their final homestand of the season.

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