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Fire storm back for victory

Posted: Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Peninsula Oilers squandered an early three-run lead and couldn't recover in falling 6-4 to the Athletes in Action Fire on Tuesday night at Growden Memorial Park in Fairbanks.

The Oilers loss, the third in four games to the Fire, drops them to 17-25 on the Alaska Baseball League season. AIA, meanwhile, improved to 15-24.

Peninsula starter and loser Scott Snodgress cruised through three innings before hitting trouble in the fourth and exiting after just 3 2/3 innings. He allowed six runs, all in the fourth, on just three hits and five walks with four strikeouts.

The Oilers, who had 10 hits, also jumped on AIA starter Jeremy Stumetz early.

Garry Kuykendall singled on Stumetz's first pitch of the game, took second on an infield single by Shayne Willson and moved to third when Jonathan Kaskow walked. Ryan Fisher then singled up the middle, scoring Kuykendall and Willson for the quick 2-0 lead.

With one out in the third, Stumetz walked consecutive batters before Kaskow knocked in Chris Ellison on a ground-out in stretching the lead to 3-0.

Snodgress faced one batter over the minimum through three solid innings, Ben Minard going down swinging but taking first when the ball escaped Peninsula catcher Marty Mullins. Chris Kievit, who took Minard's place at first on a fielder's choice, advanced to second on a balk by Snodgress but was stranded when the lefty struck out Aaron Parnell to end the second.

He unraveled in the fourth, though, surrendering a leadoff walk to Brian Kolb and an infield single to Ryan Enos. A throwing error on third baseman Glen Johnson plated Kolb and Enos then came home on a sacrifice fly by Minard. Another infield single, this time by Kievit, scored Trey Wimmer with the tying run.

AIA wasn't done yet, though.

Two more walks loaded the bases and Snodgress' fourth free pass of the inning forced home the Fire's fourth run.

A two-out single by Kolb scored another run and Snodgress then walked his final batter of the game, forcing in another run, in helping the Fire quickly gain a 6-3 edge after sending 12 batters to the plate in the long inning.

Chad Smith came on and induced a pop out to quell the threat and later added another scoreless inning of relief in the fifth.

Stumetz, meanwhile, lasted only 3 2/3 innings, departing with an injury after allowing the three runs on five hits and four walks with five strikeouts.

Ryan Woolley entered in relief and dominated the Oilers for a while.

The right-hander retired 10 of the first 11 batters he faced, allowing just a triple to Fisher in maintaining the Fire's three-run cushion.

But after Cody Kendall and Crosby Slaught each added a scoreless and hitless inning of relief for the Oilers, Woolley nearly coughed up the lead.

Kaskow led off the eighth with a home run in cutting the deficit to 6-4 and Fisher followed with a single.

Fisher, however, was caught stealing but Johnson continued the late-game rally with another single.

Following a fielder's choice that erased Johnson, Woolley induced an inning-ending pop out, but benefited from a diving catch from center fielder Ryan Gebhart in walking off with just the one run on the board.

Following a second scoreless inning from Slaught, the Oilers made the game interesting off reliever Joe Steinwedell.

With Dearth Parker on second and Kuykendall on first after a walk and single, respectively, Ellison executed a sacrifice bunt in advancing the runners.

After inducing a pop out, Steinwedell loaded the bases with another walk but picked up the save by getting Fisher, who had been 3-for-3 with a walk, to ground out in ending the game.

Following an off-day today, the Oilers return home for their final two home games of the season on Thursday and Friday at 6 p.m. against the Anchorage Bucs.

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