Two things were apparent in the Peninsula Oilers’ 9-1 Alaska Baseball League victory over the Anchorage Glacier Pilots at Mulcahy Stadium in Anchorage on Monday.
1) The Oilers are glad to be out of Fairbanks, and on the way home. 2) When the hitting and defense picks up the pitching, the Oilers are tough to beat.
The Oilers topped the Pilots in a game that had been suspended from June 25 to finish up a nine-game road trip — by far the longest of the season — with a 4-5 record.
The trip didn’t go that bad, except for a three-game sweep in Fairbanks. That ended with a 5-4 loss Sunday in which a throwing error allowed the tying and winning runs in the eighth inning.
“I think they were excited to be on their way home,” said Oilers coach Kyle Richardson on Monday from his cellphone on the ride back to Kenai. “It was a situation where we actually played really well that last game in Fairbanks, minus one inning.
“I think that carried over to today. Losing that game motivated some of the guys a little bit.”
The Oilers sit at 5-7 in the ABL. They are four games behind the league-leading Anchorage Bucs. While that is not where Richardson wants to be, he is happy to have the long road trip out of the way.
“Fairbanks is the toughest trip in the league,” Richardson said. “They play well at home and it’s hard to get used to that turf field and the atmosphere.
“I’d rather be where we’re at, with the toughest trip behind us, than having to take that trip late in the summer when maybe some of the guys are getting a little homesick.”
While the Oilers’ offense and defense struggled at times on the trip, the pitching was solid. Oilers pitchers have a 2.27 ERA thus far in the league.
“The pitching has been outstanding,” Richardson said. “One thing we can take away from this trip is we have the best pitching in the league.”
Richardson said when the hitting and defense backs up the pitching, the Oilers get results like their Monday victory over the Pilots.
GJ Strauss got the win for the Oilers, going 4 2-3 innings and giving up four hits and an earned run.
Turner Clouse pitched an inning of scoreless relief, while Cody Repenning posted two innings of scoreless ball.
On offense, the Oilers had a run in the third, two in the fifth and one in the seventh before blowing the game wide open with five runs in the top of the ninth.
The top six batters in the order all were trouble for Pilots pitching. Here they are in order:
Andre Mercurio was 3 for 5 with two runs, Jake Alvarez was 2 for 5 with two runs, Mike Wieland was 1 for 3 with two runs and an RBI, Adam Sonabend was 3 for 4 with two runs and four RBIs, Dillon Dobson was 2 for 4 with a run and three RBIs, and AJ Ramirez was 3 for 4.
The Oilers also flashed some leather. The Pilots got their lone run of the game in the sixth, and Richardson said it could have been worse if the Oilers didn’t turn a nice double play in the inning.
“The pitchers have done a really good job staying focused on what their job is,” Richardson said. “They are the rock holding us together so far.”
The Oilers face the Chugiak Chinooks at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at Coral Seymour Memorial Park before heading back on the road. The Chinooks are in last in the ABL at 3-12.