For a split second, the Peninsula Oilers appeared to be set down 1-2-3 in the fourth inning when, with two outs, Tyler Grimes was thrown off-balance and grounded weakly to shortstop with a one-handed swing.
Grimes beat out a single, though, and the Oilers pounced on the Anchorage Glacier Pilots for six runs that would be the difference in a 7-2 Alaska Baseball League victory Friday at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai.
"When the guys in our lineup put themselves in position with positive counts and make good swings, they can put up some crooked numbers," Oilers head coach Dennis Machado said after his team improved to 26-12 by winning its fifth in a row and 11th in 12 games.
The Oilers outhit the Pilots 12-11, but Peninsula piled on five of those hits in the fourth inning and scored all of its runs with two outs. Anchorage got the leadoff runner on base in seven innings, but that leadoff runner did not score once as the Pilots left 11 runners on base.
After Grimes beat out his single against Pilots starter and loser Tom Harlan (3-2), Ryan Gebhart singled and Stephen Piscotty walked to load the bases.
Ryan Hege then collected his third single of the night to score Grimes. All of Hege's singles came on the first pitch.
"It's weird," Hege said. "I knew what I was looking for, and I got what I was looking for the first three times up."
Garrett Wittels, who was 2-for-3, singled sharply to right field to score Gebhart and Piscotty.
Patrick Wisdom then defied blustery, mid-50s conditions by clocking a towering, three-run home run over the right-field fence. It was Wisdom's seventh home run of the year, his second opposite-field shot, and his second at Seymour Park.
"I was a little surprised, just like everyone else," said Wisdom, who also crossed the plate on a Sean Madigan single in the second inning. "The ball doesn't carry here. I knew I had gotten a good piece of it."
Machado said he was not surprised.
"Wisdom has the power to hit it out of any ballpark," he said.
Seven runs would be more than enough for starter and winner Eddie Orozco and the Oilers bullpen.
"I would say his stuff was not his best stuff, but even when it's not his best stuff, it's still great," Hege said of Orozco.
Orozco walked three and gave up eight hits in six innings, but gave up just two runs -- one earned.
"He battled out there," Machado said. "The thing about Eddie is he's going to compete until his fingernails fall off."
Machado also said Orozco sets a good pace on the mound that keeps the defense alert. Relievers Jeremy Tietze, Josh Corrales and Taylor Garrison kept that pace going and each pitched a scoreless inning.
The Oilers completed four double plays -- two behind Orozco. In the sixth inning, with a runner on first, Clay Cederquist lined a one-hopper to Grimes at short. Second baseman Michael Miller said he was late getting to the bag and the throw was wide to his right. Miller managed to catch the ball with his bare hand, take a step and touch second, then whirl and throw to first baseman Wisdom, who dug the ball out of the dirt.
The played loomed large when the Glacier Pilots went on to walk once and singled twice in scoring a run in the inning.
That wacky double play was not even the clear winner for defensive play of the game.
In the third, Cederquist lofted a ball into the swirling winds down the third-base line with two outs, a run already in, and runners on first and second.
Playing third base, Wittels sprinted down the line and managed to catch the ball while arching and twisting backward, and crashing to the ground. Considering the inning also included Hege catching a runner stealing, defense is the reason the Oilers escaped the third in a 1-all game.
Machado wasn't ready to pick a winner between the two plays, calling them both phenomenal.
On Wittels: "Wittels' play was as tough of a play as a third baseman is going to have to make."
On Miller: "Miller's play was one of those plays where you go, 'Wow. Did that just happen?'"
Trevor Hairgrove led Anchorage by going 3-for-5 with two doubles, while Gene Escat had four innings of scoreless relief for the Pilots.
Madigan finished 2-for-4 for the Oilers.
Oilers 7, Pilots 2
Pilots AB R H BI Oilers AB R H BI
Mntlbno cf 3 0 0 0 Grimes ss 4 1 1 0
Dcksn ph 1 0 0 0 Gbhrt cf 4 1 1 0
Lndckr ss 4 1 1 0 Psctty lf 3 1 1 0
Hrgrve rf 5 0 3 1 Hege c 4 1 3 1
Grrisn c 4 0 1 0 Leon c 0 0 0 0
Cdrqst 1b 4 0 2 0 Wittls 3b 3 1 2 2
Mnshp dh 3 1 1 0 Wisdm 1b 3 2 2 3
Mhny 2b 2 0 1 0 Thnissn 1b 1 0 0 0
Ortiz 3b 4 0 1 1 Popick dh 4 0 0 0
Mtlnd lf 3 0 1 0 Miller 2b 4 0 0 0
---- -- -- -- -- Madign rf 4 0 2 1
Totals 33 2 11 2 Totals 34 7 12 7
Anchorage 001 001 000 --2
Peninsula 010 600 00X --7
E -- Grimes. DP -- Pilots 1, Oilers 4. 2B -- Hairgrove 2. HR -- Wisdom. CS -- Maitland, Wittels. S -- Mahoney.
IP H R ER BB SO
Harlan, L 4 11 7 7 1 1
Escat 4 1 0 0 1 4
Orozco, W 6 8 2 1 3 1
Tietze 1 1 0 0 1 0
Corrales 1 1 0 0 0 2
Garrison 1 1 0 0 2 0
BK -- Harlan.
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