Oilers starter Logan McAnallen was itching to get another shot at the Anchorage Bucs. Oilers hitters were pining for the chance to finally give McAnallen run support.
Those two factors added up to a 5-0 Oilers victory against the Bucs on Friday in Alaska Baseball League action at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai.
"They beat us today," Bucs coach Tony Cappuccilli said. "There's no other way to put it."
The Oilers (12-11) ended Friday 3 1-2 games behind the league-leading Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks, while the Bucs (13-10) are 2 1-2 games back.
On July 7, the Bucs got to McAnallen for two earned runs in five innings in a 3-0 Oilers loss.
"I gave up some runs and wore that loss, so I was looking forward to today," McAnallen said.
Oilers head coach Kyle Richardson said McAnallen is very competitive.
"The rest of the road trip, he was asking, 'Do I get to pitch against the Bucs? Do I get to pitch against the Bucs?'" Richardson said. "I finally told him, 'Don't worry. You are pitching the first game against the Bucs.'"
Those two earned runs McAnallen gave up to the Bucs were the first two earned runs he yielded in the ABL this year.
After Friday, they were still the only two earned runs for McAnallen in 29 1-3 innings of work.
He pitched seven shutout innings, giving up just two hits while striking out four. He threw 83 pitches, 58 for strikes.
"The kid was unhittable today," Cappuccilli said.
McAnallen said he had his fastball, slider and splitter working. Just as importantly, he was locating his fastball on the both sides of the plate.
"That's like two pitches right there," McAnallen said. "It makes the off-speed look that much better."
A sign of just how puny the run support has been for McAnallen this year is that the effort improved his record to 1-1 in six starts.
Bucs starter Kenny Smith had not given up an earned run in 12 innings coming into the game, but the Oilers were able to get to Smith and get McAnallen some runs.
In the second, Kyle Hunt belted a 2-2 fastball from Smith over the right-field wall for his first homer of the year.
"We wanted to make it right," Hunt said of the paucity of runs for McAnallen. "He has done a great job pitching this year.
"Our pitching has been really solid. We just haven't scored runs at times."
Richardson said the Oilers have particularly struggled to score early. With the early run on the board, the Oilers hitters could loosen up, collecting 12 hits and four extra-base hits in the game.
Richardson held an optional batting practice at 3:30 p.m. Friday. He said the players that came to that batting practice were the players he put in the lineup.
The coach said Hunt was there asking questions and trying to get better.
"Then he goes out and gets hits his first two times up," Richardson said. "These guys are discovering how much hard work it takes to be even average at this level.
"To be really good takes even more work."
The Oilers made it 3-0 in the fifth when Mike Wieland tripled in Jake Alvarez, then scored on a double by AJ Ramirez.
Peninsula then tagged reliever David Herd with runs in the seventh and eighth to punctuate the victory.
Colby Blueberg slammed the door for the Oilers, giving up just the Bucs' third hit of the game.
Wieland finished 2 for 2 with two runs and an RBI, while Ramirez was 2 for 3 with two RBIs. Tim Proudfoot and Alvarez also had two hits for the Oilers.
The three-game series with the Bucs continues Saturday at 7 p.m. and ends with a 2 p.m. Sunday tilt.
Oilers notes: Richardson said pitcher Billy Strode is fine after being struck by a line drive in his left, and pitching, hand Wednesday in a start against the Miners.
Strode had to leave the start immediately, but an X-ray showed no broken bone and the injury is healing so quickly Richardson does not think Strode will miss a start.