After playing together in Little League, at Homer High School and with the American Legion Twins, Homer’s Mose Hayes and Harrison Metz are teammates for the Peninsula Oilers this season.
Hayes, a 2020 graduate of Homer High, is in his third year with the Alaska Baseball League team. Metz, a 2021 graduate of Homer High, is in his first year in the Oilers dugout at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai.
“We’ve been playing together since we were in Little League and we’ve kept in touch throughout the years,” said Metz, the son of Brian and Kristin Metz of Homer. “He (Hayes) was really happy to get me to play and he was encouraging me to do it for sure.
“He’s really enjoyed his last two years on the team.”
Hayes, the son of Mike Hayes and Dana Roberts of Homer, said with the pitching duo still living in Homer, having Metz as a teammate has helped a lot.
“I get to carpool with him every day,” he said. “That makes things easier and a lot more exciting.”
Hayes was a standout in wrestling and baseball for the Mariners, winning a pair of Division II state titles on the mat. He also played four years for the Twins, three at the varsity level.
After high school, he enrolled at Yuba Community College in Marysville, California.
His freshman season was almost nonexistent because it was shortened by the pandemic. He pitched only 8 2-3 innings at college and then only got a few innings with the Oilers.
Because of the pandemic, he got his freshman athletic season restored in 2022 and had much more success. He was 3-1 with a save in 45 2-3 innings pitched with a 4.73 ERA. That earned him second team all-conference honors in the Bay Valley.
Hayes then came back to the Oilers in 2022. He said he pitched a couple fewer innings than the 29 2-3 listed online, and also had an ERA of 4.60, less than listed online.
In 2023 at Yuba, Hayes was 0-1 with a 5.50 ERA in 37 2-3 innings pitched.
“I struggled a little bit and had a couple of really bad outings that spiked the ERA,” Hayes said.
This summer with the Oilers, Hayes is 2-1 with a 3.55 ERA.
“Mose has been throwing strikes his three years here,” said Larry McCann, the head coach for all of Hayes’ time with the Oilers. “He’s gotten bigger and stronger, so he’s more effective.
“He’s able to throw two pitches for strikes, he pitches to contact, and he gets guys out.”
Metz, who played for the Twins varsity team for five years, enrolled at Valley City State University in Valley City, North Dakota, after graduating.
As a freshman in the 2021-22 season, Metz was mostly used as a substitute base runner.
In 2022-23, Metz appeared in 10 games as a pitcher, including three starts. He was 2-0 with a 6.35 ERA in 22 2-3 innings.
The software engineering major earned Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete honors after the season.
“I started off as a reliever and was able to work my way into a starting spot throughout the year,” Metz said.
Metz had limited opportunities with the Oilers this summer until getting a start Saturday against the Anchorage Glacier Pilots and giving up eight runs — seven earned — on eight hits in two innings.
As a senior in high school, Metz struck out 17 in the first round of the Division II state tournament to set an Alaska pitch-count era high school record that has since been broken.
“I definitely feel a little less comfortable than I was in high school, because back then I was always throwing every four days or so,” he said. “The volume now is a lot less, but I’m getting back into it.”
McCann said Metz needs to sharpen his location and throw more than just one pitch for strikes.
“You get behind and then you’ve got to throw the ball where they know it’s coming, and it’s tough,” McCann said.
The Oilers have had a mass exodus of pitchers in the last few weeks, so there should be plenty of opportunities for Hayes and Metz in the remaining five regular season games and then the playoffs.
Done with junior college, Hayes hopes to use his remaining time with the Oilers to land a spot on a college team.
He recently received a confidence boost when Dave Serrano expressed interest in the services of Hayes.
Serrano was head coach of the Glacier Pilots until earlier this summer, when he was named head coach of Johnson University in Knoxville, Tennessee. Serrano has been a part of seven College World Series as a coach or assistant coach.
Hayes is not ready to commit to Johnson, but said Serrano’s interest means a lot.
“I’m not sure where yet, but I’m definitely going to keep playing,” Hayes said. “I’d do anything to keep playing.”
Metz said his up-and-down experience with the Oilers has been a good challenge. He said the tough times have been worth it because he’s learning a lot about pitch sequencing, strategy and keeping his body healthy.
“It’ll definitely be a confidence booster going back to Valley City,” Metz said.
Both could also see coming back to the Oilers, a team that Metz remembers watching in awe after Little League games.
Hayes and Metz also want to serve as examples to youngsters in Homer. While Homer has two players on the Oilers, Homer doesn’t have any players on the Twins varsity or JV programs this season.
The issue hits even closer to home for Hayes, since his father, Mike, has been the coach of the high school team since 2022.
“Playing on that Legion team during the summers is every bit as rough as playing up here,” Hayes said. “You’re driving three or four times a week and busting it back home every night.
“I understand why kids on the high school program have a hard time committing to that over the summer. A lot of them want to make money. There’s a lot of young talent on that high school team and I’m sure given a few years there’ll be a couple. I really hope so.”