Friday: Bucs take down Oilers

The last time Mike Grahovac rolled through town, he was coaching not only a different team, but a different kind of team.

As head coach of the Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks in 2014, Grahovac led an offensive powerhouse to regular season and Top of the World Series titles in the Alaska Baseball League.

Friday at Coral Seymour Memorial Park, Grahovac’s Anchorage Bucs put their nose out front in the race to win the American League by using pitching and defense to beat the Oilers 5-2 and win a crucial, six-game series 4-2.

The series win puts the Bucs at 17-14 in the ABL, three games ahead of the Oilers in the race to represent the AL in the postseason. Both squads have nine games left, and that’s if the game between the Oilers and Bucs that was rained out Saturday in Anchorage is made up.

“We then have to play better against the other teams than they do the rest of the year,” Oilers head coach Kevin Griffin said.

The Bucs averaged just three runs and six hits per game in the series, but that’s been the norm for a team relying on pitching and defense.

“Last year was a different league,” Grahovac said. “There were a lot more home runs. This year is a lot more defensive.”

To hammer that point home, here are some league stats for the 2014 Goldpanners and 2015 Bucs: 36 home runs vs. five home runs; .317 batting average vs. .232 batting average; and 7.3 runs per game vs. 3.9 runs per game.

With runs at a premium, defense becomes all the more important. The Bucs won the defensive battle against the Oilers in the series, as the Oilers allowed seven unearned runs while the Bucs yielded two unearned runs, although Oilers third baseman Alex Seifert did save more than a few runs during the series with sparkling plays at the hot corner.

“We got great pitching the entire trip and we got the clutch hits when we needed them,” Grahovac said.

Quin Grogan was 2-4 with a 3.50 ERA in league play heading into Friday’s game, but he went all nine innings against the Oilers, allowing seven hits and two runs — one earned — while walking one and striking out eight.

“He’s had some hard luck,” Grahovac said in explaining Grogan’s record. “We didn’t score runs or make plays behind him.”

Grogan ended up with 114 pitches, but Grahovac didn’t hesitate to leave him in the game.

“He’s the best-conditioned pitcher on our staff,” he said. “On our off days, he gets in his running, stretching and weight lifting.”

Oilers starter Joe Mata overcame early control problems to keep his team in the game. In the first inning, he walked two and hit one, but only gave up a run. That would be the lone run he allowed in five innings.

“Early on, he was a little wild, but he settled in,” Griffin said.

The Oilers tied up the game in the second inning when Seifert singled with two outs after a nine-pitch at-bat to score Brent Diaz.

Griffin said just one or two innings have been costing the Oilers all season, and Friday that inning was the sixth.

Shane Ennis came on in relief of Mata for the sixth. Stephan Trosclair led off with a single and Taylor Jones was hit by a pitch.

Zane Gurwitz then laid down a sacrifice bunt, but Ennis threw wildly to first to score Trosclair. Right fielder Jordan Washam then threw wildly home, allowing Jones to score and Gurwitz to take second. Gurwitz would score for a 4-1 lead on a single by David Banuelos.

The Oilers picked up an unearned run in the sixth when James Fowlkes scored on a Diaz grounder for a 4-2 game, but Grogan would close strong for the win.

Brodie Leftridge had two hits for the Bucs, while Mark Sanchez, Seifert and Kenai Central and American Legion Twins product Hector Rivera had two hits for the Oilers.

“Rivera got a chance to play the last couple of days and he’s done a good job,” Griffin said. “He’s a local guy and he works hard every day.”

Friday

Bucs 5, Oilers 2

Bucs AB R H BI Oilers AB R H BI

Mtya ss 5 0 0 0 Wsm rf 4 0 0 0

Plmr lf 3 1 0 0 Wlsn rf 0 0 0 0

Tscr dh 4 1 1 1 Flks cf 3 1 0 0

Jnes 1b 3 1 0 0 Arwd 1b 4 0 0 0

Gwtz 3b 3 1 0 1 BDz dh 4 1 1 1

Btlr rf 3 0 0 0 Bke dh 3 0 0 0

Ttm 2b 4 0 0 0 Sncz c 4 0 2 0

Bnls c 2 0 1 1 Sfrt 3b 4 0 2 1

Ltrg cf 3 0 2 0 Rvra lf 4 0 2 0

Jcbs cf 1 1 1 0 Glsy 2b 3 0 0 0

Totals 31 5 5 3 Totals 33 2 7 2

Anchorage 100 003 001 —5

Oilers 010 001 000 —2

2B — Sanchez. S — Gurwitz, Butler, Boeke. SB — Leftridge, Rivera. E — Grogan, Seifert, Ennis 2. LOB — Bucs 8, Oilers 6. DP — Bucs 1, Oilers 1.

IP H R ER BB SO

Bucs

Grogan, W 9 7 2 1 1 8

Oilers

Mata 5 2 1 1 3 4

Ennis 2-3 2 3 1 0 1

VanStone 1 1-3 0 0 0 0 0

Michel 1 0 0 0 0 1

Lujan 1 1 1 1 2 0

WP — Mata. HBP — by Mata (Trosclair); by Ennis (Jones).

More in Sports

tease
Tuesday hoops: Grace Christian sweeps Seward

The visiting Grace Christian basketball teams swept Seward on Tuesday in Peninsula… Continue reading

Soldotna's Ariana Cannava skis her team to third place in the 4-by-3-kilometer relay at the state Nordic ski meet at Kincaid Park in Anchorage, Alaska, on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. (Photo courtesy of Danika Winslow)
State skiing: Kenai girls, boys take DII honors

The Kenai Peninsula had plenty to shout about Thursday, Friday and Saturday… Continue reading

The Kenai River Brown Bears celebrate a goal during a game against Fairbanks at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai River Brown Bears snap losing skid with win over Fairbanks

It was the team’s first win since Dec. 2

Soldotna’s Kaytlin McAnelly, backed by teammate Izzy Cruz, moves with the ball against defensive play by Houston’s Andi Robinson during a basketball game at Soldotna High School in Soldotna, Alaska, on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Friday hoops: Soldotna splits with Houston on senior night

Nikiski girls and boys also took on Grace Christian

The Kenai River Brown Bears celebrate a goal by Dylan Contreras, center, during a hockey game at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska, on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Brown Bears topped by Ice Dogs

The two teams play again Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Kenai’s Reid Titus collects high fives from the bleachers after making an unlikely shot during a basketball game at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Tuesday hoops: Kenai sweeps Nikiski

The Kenai girls and boys teams both came out on top

Martin Flores skis into the finish to win the 40-kilometer Double Tour while carrying an Alaska flag during the Tour of Tsalteshi at Tsalteshi Trails near Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Skiers, bikers turn out for Seventh Annual Tour of Tsalteshi

Racers came from across the Kenai Peninsula and beyond and competed in a variety of lengths and modes of travel

ski tease
Soldotna girls, Kenai boys win borough ski meet

The event took place Saturday at Lookout Mountain Recreation Area

Most Read