A hot start to the season by the Peninsula Oilers has so far proven not to be a fluke, as a tense 2-0 win over the two-time defending Alaska Baseball League champion Mat-Su Miners proved.
Brian Leonhardt homered, a quartet of pitchers combined on a shutout and the Peninsula Oilers improved to 5-2 overall in 2018 Tuesday night at Hermon Brothers Field in Palmer.
Despite the low-scoring contest, the Oilers stranded 13 baserunners in part due to three bases-loaded jams that Mat-Su wiggled out of.
Justin Jaime, Tre Brown, Erickson Fish and Bret Ricklefs combined to pitch a shutout for the Oilers. Jaime pitched three scoreless innings and struck out two, while giving up three hits.
Brown collected the win on the mound, as he and Fish both tossed two scoreless frames of two-hit ball each, Brown whiffing one and Fish giving up one walk and a strikeout. Ricklefs picked up the save with three strikeouts in the final two innings.
Jake Terry took the loss for the Miners, as the Oilers chased him after five innings. Terry struck out five but walked four and gave up three hits.
The Miners loaded the bags in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, but Ricklefs got the job done to secure the win on a fly out by Hunter Jump. Mat-Su’s Austin Pinorini singled, pinch-hitter Brett Owen drew a walk and Drew Swift lined a single to left field to load the bases, but to no avail.
Leonhardt opened the scoring for the Oilers with a two-out solo home run in the top of the third. Leonhardt’s shot made it just fair inside the left foul pole.
Mat-Su managed to put two runners on base in both the fifth and sixth innings, but failed to score in the fifth on a lineup by Brown and in the sixth on a strikeout by Fish.
Michael Yourg tapped a run-scoring single in the top of the eighth for an insurance run.
The Oilers loaded the bases with one out in the seventh, but came away with nothing after Koch flied out to the infield and Grant Wood grounded out.
Then in the top of the ninth, the Oilers loaded the bases with one out after Mat-Su intentionally walked Matthew Kirk, but Tyler Duke and Yourg struck out to end the threat and keep the Miners in the game.
Yourg finished 2 for 3 on the day to lead the Oilers, while Duke managed to draw two walks to get on base. In an increasing trend this summer, the Oilers were once again outhit while picking up the win, as the Miners outhit the Oilers 9 to 6.
The Oilers and Miners meet again tonight at 7 p.m. The Oilers then start a two-game series Thursday with the Anchorage Glacier Pilots at Mulcahy Stadium, part of an eight-game road trip.