With continued dominant pitching and improving hitting, the Peninsula Oilers defeated the Chugiak Chinooks 7-2 on Friday at Coral Seymour Memorial Park to complete a four-game sweep.
The win also is the fifth straight for the Oilers, coming on the heels of a three-game sweep in Fairbanks.
Peninsula is at 9-7 in the Alaska Baseball League, tied with the Mat-Su Miners for third place. Ahead are the Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks (9-5) and the Anchorage Bucs (12-7). The Chinooks are now 3-16.
Oilers pitchers gave up just five runs in the series, which included an 11-inning affair.
"They're good, and our hitters may not be playing to their potential at this point," Chinooks coach Parker Price said. "But the Oilers have good pitching, obviously."
Driving home to Kenai before the series, Oilers coach Kyle Richardson said he had a feeling the team was about to get on a roll.
"The Chinooks are going to beat some teams," Richardson said. "They're not a bad team at all.
"This is exactly what we needed. In sports, you need to beat the teams below you in the standings."
As it had all series, the Oilers winning effort started on the mound, where Peninsula led the league after Friday's game with a 1.86 ERA.
Billy Strode pitched the first five innings and gave up two unearned runs and four hits to earn the win.
Strode was born and raised in Florida, and now attends Florida State, so he said Friday's rainy, cool conditions were not ideal.
The lefty said he had his fastball, curveball and change-up working, and added that catcher Mike Wieland did a great job changing up speeds and locations.
He also said the Oilers bullpen makes life easy.
"I know they are going to come in and do their job," he said.
The bullpen did just that as Colby Blueberg pitched two scoreless innings, Dylan Silva had a scoreless inning and Brandon Warner had a scoreless inning.
Richardson said the reason the staff is so good is its depth. He said in the past couple of years, there were guys the coaches did not want in a tight situation. Not this year.
"It's been every single pitcher," Richardson said. "There are no weak links."
The Chinooks pitchers held the Oilers bats down in the first three games of the series, yielding just seven runs.
The Oilers led the league after Friday's game in batting average at .263, and pounded out 11 hits Friday to hit the double-digit mark in base knocks for the fifth time in the last six games.
Peninsula's problem has come with runners in scoring position. Richardson said that's because hitters have been trying to do too much, but he's seeing that start to change.
"Today, we took better at-bats than we have in a while," he said.
The best at-bat came from Turner Clouse in the seventh, when he deposited a fastball over the right-field wall for a three-run homer.
It was the first tater at Seymour Park this year for the Oilers in league play.
Clouse said he sees the tide turning on offense.
"A lot of guys are homing in with their swings," he said. "They are looking for the pitches they can hit, and driving them.
"We've also been trying to relax as much as possible with runners in scoring position."
Jake Alvarez, AJ Ramirez, David Olmedo-Barrera and Taylor Tempel each finished with two hits for the Oilers.
James Scott took the loss for the Chinooks, going six innings and giving up eight hits and four runs — two earned.
The Oilers now go on the road for six games in a five-day stretch, starting with a 7 p.m. game against the Bucs on Saturday.
"This gives us momentum, and momentum is a huge thing in baseball," Clouse said. "Once you have it, it's hard to stop."
Added Strode: "We're having fun, and that's the most important thing. That's what the Alaska league is for — come up, have fun and meet some new people.
"And the winning is nice."