Chris Saddoris throws a pitch for the Peninsula Oilers in the second inning Thursday against the Mat-Su Miners.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
The Peninsula Oilers defeated the Mat-Su Miners for the fourth time in four days, winning 3-2 Thursday at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai.
With the win, the Oilers, 18-10 in the Alaska Baseball League, maintain their lead in the ABL standings. The next test for the Oilers is a tough one, though: four games in three days against the Alaska Goldpanners in Fairbanks.
“A lot of guys are getting tired and a little homesick, but now, if we keep playing like this, we’re going to Wichita,” said Peninsula’s Jake Kahaulelio, referring to the prize for the ABL winner, a trip to the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kans.
“Hopefully, we can rest up on the bus ride. There’s a lot of fatigue. But when we get to the ballpark, we’re all having fun. There’s a lot of smiles here. ... We’re going to do it and see what happens.”
The Oilers have good reason to smile after taking four of five games from the Miners this week.
The Miners opened Thursday’s game with back-to-back singles off Oilers starting pitcher Chris Saddoris, scoring one run on a throwing error and a second on a sacrifice fly.
The Oilers bounced right back, plating a pair of runs of their own in the bottom of the inning. Kahaulelio hit a leadoff single and advanced to second on a one-out single by David Newby.
Kahaulelio was able to tag up and take third on a deep fly ball to center by Brian Van Kirk, and a walk to Rocky Laguna loaded the bases. Andy Preston followed with a single just beyond the dive of the Mat-Su second baseman, plating Kahaulelio and Newby.
After the first inning, Saddoris settled into a groove, scattering just three more hits as he worked into the eighth inning. Saddoris retired the side in order in the second, fourth, sixth and seventh innings. He walked one and struck out two batters in 7 2/3 innings of work.
Ricky Heines relieved Saddoris with two out and a runner on first in the top of the eighth inning, getting Joe Ercolano to ground out to short to end the frame.
Taylor Bills pitched a perfect ninth, notching one strikeout, for the save.
The Oilers took their first lead of the game in the bottom of the third inning as Laguna and Preston drew one-out walks to start the rally. Ryan Mottern Wednesday’s starting pitcher and the designated hitter Thursday singled up the middle to drive in Laguna.
Kahaulelio notched a pair of hits in the game. His single in the first inning was a line drive to left field, while his base hit in the second was not as routine. Kahaulelio tried to check his swing but made contact, dropping a bloop single just over the head of the Mat-Su first baseman.
“A lot of guys complain about hitting the ball hard. Hitting the ball hard is overrated,” Kahaulelio said.
Just before his check-swing single, Kahaulelio said, Austin Yount drove a ball to deep center field. With a metal bat, that hard-hit ball might have been over the center fielder’s head for a double but in Seymour Park with a wood bat, it was a fly-ball out.
“Every now and then you get one of those little hits the baseball gods bless you with. You work so hard, you hope that one time it will fall,” Kahaulelio said.
Oilers 3, Miners 2
Miners ab r h bi Oilers ab r h bi
Coulter 2b 4 1 2 0 Kahaullio ss 5 1 2 0
August lf 4 1 2 0 Padilla 2b 3 0 0 0
Ercolano cf 3 0 0 0 Newby cf 4 1 1 0
Brown rf 3 0 0 0 Van Kirk rf 4 0 0 0
Gran ss 3 0 0 1 Laguna lf 1 1 0 0
Magness dh 4 0 0 0 Preston 1b 1 0 1 2
Milleville 1b 3 0 0 0 Mottern dh 3 0 1 1
Ponciano c 3 0 0 0 Yount 3b 4 0 0 0
McMillan 3b 3 0 1 0 Opdyke c 4 0 0 0
Clark dh1 0 0 0
Totals 30 2 5 1 Totals 30 3 5 3
Mat-Su 200 000 000 2
Peninsula 201 000 00x 3
E Van Kirk, McMillan, Coulter. DP Miners 1. LOB Miners 4, Oilers 9. SB Padilla, Laguna, Van Kirk. 2B August. S Ercolano. SF Gran.
ip h r er bb so
Daman, L 4 5 3 3 5 2
Chrisman 1 0 0 0 1 0
Turpin 2 0 0 0 1 2
Willinsky 1 0 0 0 0 0
Saddoris, W 7 2/3 5 2 0 1 2
Heines 1/3 0 0 0 0 0
Bills, S 1 0 0 0 0 1
Daman pitched to one batter in the fifth.
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