The resourceful Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks increased their Alaska Baseball League winning streak to five Sunday, defeating the Peninsula Oilers 3-2 at Coral Seymour Memorial Park.
Tim Gloyd, in his third year as manager of the Goldpanners, said his squad lost five players to the Major League Baseball draft before the season and has been scrambling to put a team in place since then. Alaska started out 0-6 in the league and 2-10 overall, but the Panners are now 12-12 in league play and three games in back of the first-place Anchorage Glacier Pilots. The Oilers are 10-14 in the league and five games out of first.
On Sunday, Alaska took advantage of a bunch of oddball occurrences, such as having a coach score a run, having a winning pitcher score a run, scoring on a dropped pop fly and scoring the winning run and completing a comeback on a wild pitch.
All in a day's work for the Panners, Gloyd said.
"This is how we've been playing for the last eight or nine games," the coach said.
On Saturday, according to Gloyd, the Panners completed a doubleheader sweep of the Miners by coming back from a 5-2 deficit in the seventh inning, scoring two of those runs in the seventh on passed balls.
Oilers starter Scott Snodgress kept the wacky Panners in check for the first six innings of the game, giving up just one hit while walking none and striking out six. The Oilers had taken a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Caleb Bushyhead, who finished 3-for-4, scored on one of the three passed balls of catcher Jeremy Rodriguez.
In the seventh inning, Snodgress finally gave the Panners an opening, walking his only two batters of the game and giving up a single to load the bases with two outs. Oilers reliever Chad Smith, who would take the loss, did his job, getting Rodriguez to hit a pop-up to the right side of the infield.
Second baseman Bushyhead and first baseman Jonathan Kaskow did not communicate on the play and allowed the ball to drop. Andrew Pollak scored on the miscue, but Justin Schafer made the final out of the inning when he was cut down trying to also score on the dropped pop-up. Schafer was ejected from the game for arguing the play.
"We have to do a better job of focusing," Oilers manager Jeff Walker said. "We've been losing games due to defense and that shows a lack of focus."
For most teams, the ejection would not have been a big deal. But the Panners had recently lost two players to injury and another due to the death of a close friend. They already had pitcher Martin Medina playing at third base and coach Bobby Davis serving as the designated hitter.
"If we can get some more guys up here, I think we can make a run at it," Gloyd said. "I've been calling coaches. I think they're getting sick of hearing from me."
Schafer's forced early exit meant the Panners lost their designated hitter because Davis went in to catch. Rodriguez had to move out to the foreign position of third base.
The Oilers retook the lead in the bottom of the seventh inning when Kaskow, who had two hits in the game, singled to score Marty Mullins.
The Panners came right back to tie the game in the top of the eighth. Davis led off by slapping a single to right field, then scored on a double by Raoul Torrez.
Alaska reliever Jordan LeGros mowed down the Oilers in the eighth, then, with the designated hitter eliminated, came to the plate in the bottom of the ninth with one on and no out and reached on a fielder's choice. He moved to second on a walk, third on a single, then scored for a 3-2 lead when Smith uncorked a wild pitch.
After LeGros walked Michael Miller to lead off the bottom of the ninth, Gloyd summoned closer Kyle Brule, who has not given up an earned run this year. The Oilers loaded the bases with one out on a pair of walks, but Brule struck out Kaskow and induced Mark Tracy into a fly ball to second to record his sixth save.
"One thing we've been getting is great relief pitching from Brule and LeGros," Gloyd said. "Our starters also have been doing a good job of getting us to the fifth inning. We've been getting into jams like we did today late in the game, but that's also just the thing we've been getting out of."
The Oilers and Panners square off again today at 7 p.m. at Coral Seymour Memorial Park. Crosby Slaught will get the start for the Oilers.
Goldpanners 3, Oilers 2
Panners AB R H BI Oilers AB R H BI
Torrz 2b 4 0 1 1 Millr cf 4 0 1 0
Smntsch cf 4 0 0 0 Mullns 3 1 0 0
Pollk 1b 2 1 0 0 Ellisn rf 2 0 0 0
Schfr ss 3 0 1 0 Willsn rf 4 0 0 0
LeGrs p 1 1 0 0 Kaskw 1b 3 0 2 1
Gowns rf 3 0 0 0 Hagen dh 3 0 0 0
McIntre lf 3 0 2 0 Tracy dh 2 0 0 0
JRod c 4 0 0 0 Parkr ss 4 0 0 0
Davis dh 3 1 1 0 Bshyhd 2b 4 1 3 0
Medna 3b 2 0 0 0 Kohan 3b 4 0 0 0
Totals 29 3 5 1 Totals 33 2 6 1
Alaska 000 000 111 --3
Peninsula 010 000 100 --2
E -- Schafer, Bushyhead, Parker. DP -- none. LOB -- Panners 4, Oilers 13. 2B -- Torrez, Bushyhead. SB -- Medina, Kohan, Miller. CS -- McIntyre, Simonitsch, Gowens. S -- Ellison.
IP H R ER BB SO
Colvin 4 4 1 0 3 5
Ishida 2 2-3 2 1 1 1 2
LeGros, W 1 1-3 0 0 0 1 2
Brule, S 1 0 0 0 2 1
Snodgress 6 2-3 2 1 0 2 7
Smith, L 2 1-3 3 2 2 2 0
WP -- Smith. PB -- Rodriguez 3, Mullins. HBP -- Mullins (by Ishida). T -- 3:14.
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