The Peninsula Oilers lost their final home game to the Athletes In Action Fire 8-7, Sunday at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai in a hard-fought contest that was anybody's ball game up until the last pitch.
"We've been battling all along," said Oilers coach Kyle DiEduardo. "It seems like we always end up in games like this where it comes down to the ninth inning. A lot of them, we won. This one we didn't."
The Oilers got in trouble early as Jake Postlewait started off plunking the Fire's lead-off batter Matt Bogue, and bagging the second hitter, Michael Cline, with a single in the gap to left field.
Simultaneous steals of second and third bases put runners in scoring position, and Cody Montgomery hit a sacrifice grounder to Joe Holland at second to score Bogue from third base. An Eric Streelman sacrifice fly out to Joe Frazee in center field plated Cline, to put Athletes In Action up 2-1.
In the top of the third, Jimmy Bacon bobbled a Bogue grounder for an error that moved Jeremy Accardo to third base. Montgomery hit a grounder to the gap that Brent Lewis overran to earn an error and score Accardo.
But the Oilers were able to get out of the inning by throwing out Michael Cline on a 6-3 ground-ball play, and picking off Montgomery's attempt to steal second.
In the bottom of the third, Jimmy Bacon turns on a 2-and-2 pitch for a single-run home run over the right-field wall. Bacon has a .118 average on the season, and that was his first yard ball for the year.
The bottom of the fourth inning, the Oiler offense came alive with some help from AIA and the umpire, Brian Darling. After giving up a single to Dusty Bensko, starting Fire pitcher Rich Sorenson walked Brent Lewis and hit Josh Lex.
But with full count, Lewis hit a high foul ball to the fence just off third base. AIA left fielder Israel Victor slid into the fence to catch the pop fly, but plate umpire Darling called the play safe, indicating that Victor didn't make the catch.
AIA coach Perry Roth argued Darling's call and and was tossed from the ball game. the next pitch was a ball, to load the bases.
Ben Fritz came to the plate with runners in scoring position and hit a grounder into the left-field gap to score Bensko and rotate the rest of the runners one base.
Andy Dahl took the second pitch he saw to the center-field wall to clear the bases for a three-run triple to make the score 5-4.
In the bottom of the fifth, Joe Holland increased the Oiler lead, smashing a single-run shot over the left-field wall. He said he knew the ball was going yard once he connected.
"All game they've been throwing me first-pitch fast-balls," Holland said. "I just got a good look and got good wood on it."
But AIA was able to get back on top on the scoreboard in the seventh, courtesy of Oilers miscues. Oiler reliever Kris Gawriluk opened the top of the inning by walking speedy base thief Cline. And Cline made good on his reputation by stealing second soon after he reached first.
Gawriluk then gave up a run to Streelman Paul Coleman replaced Gawriluk on the mound and gave up an RBI single to Campbell, plating Cline. A Jeff Abney single to left field scored Streelman and an Coleman wild pitch allowed Campbell to score. Abney scored on a Michael Wydner single, to make the score 8-6 going into the bottom of the seventh.
The Oilers pulled to within a run when Joe Frazee scored on a Holland double down the third-base line. But AIA reliever Roger Evanson came in and was able to shut down the Oilers bats ending the inning with three Peninsula runners left stranded.
The score remained the same in the bottom of the ninth inning when Dahl came up to the plate. He faced a fresh pitcher in Jeremy Accardo, with one out and bases loaded. But with a count of 2-2, Dahl hit into a tag-and-throw 4-3 double play.
After Sunday's game, the Oilers are tied with the Anchorage Pilots for third place with a half a game back from second-place AIA and three games behind the Alaska Baseball League-leading Fairbanks Goldpanners.
Holland said in spite of the loss, the 8-2 home stand was a huge booster to the team's morale, as they look at an seven-game road trip to finish the regular season.
"It gives us a lot of momentum," he said, "and a lot of confidence. Now we're expecting to win instead of hoping to win."
FIRE 8, OILERS 7
AIA AB R H BI OILERS AB R H BI
Bogue, cf 4 1 0 0 Holland, 2b 5 1 2 2
Cline, rf 3 2 1 0 Bensko, 1b 3 1 1 0
Montgmry, 3b 5 0 0 1 Lewis, 3b 3 1 1 0
Streelman, 1b 3 1 1 1 Lex, lf 4 1 1 0
Cambell, dh 3 1 2 1 Fritz, c3111
(b9) Glfhn, 2b 0 0 0 0 Dahl, Andy rf 5 0 1 3
Abney, c 5 2 1 2 Schoenbrgr, dh 3 0 0 0
Victor, lf 5 0 0 0 Bacon, ss 4 1 1 1
Wydner, 2b-ss 3 0 1 1 Frazee, cf 4 1 2 0
Accardo, ss-p 4 1 3 1
Totals 35 8 9 7 Totals 34 7 10 7
Athletes in Action 201 100 400 -- 8
Peninsula 001 410 100 -- 7
E -- Bensko, Lewis, Bacon,. DP -- Athletes in Action 1. LOB -- Oilers 8, AIA 8. 2B -- Cambell, Holland. 3B -- Dahl. HR -- Bacon, Holland. SB -- Cline (3), Bogue, Mathew. S -- Cambell, Fritz. SF --Streelman.
IP H R ER BB SO
Sorenson, W 6.00 6 6 6 1 2
Evenson 1.67 1 0 0 1 3
Accardo 1.00 1 0 0 1 0
Swanson 0.33 2 1 1 1 1
Postlewaite 6.00 5 4 2 3 3
Coleman 2.67 1 0 0 1 1
Gawriluk, L 0.33 3 4 4 1 1
HBP: by Postlewaite (Bogue), by Sorenson (Lex), by Swanson (Bensko), by Accardo (Fritz). WP -- Swanson (2), Coleman, Gawriluk. T: 3:00.
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