Friday, after the Peninsula Oilers had lost a third straight game to the Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks, head coach Kyle Brown said he needed someone to step up and be the man.
“I still love this team, somebody just has to step up and be the man and get a hit at the right time,” Brown said. “Then we can relax and play baseball. Guys are just pressing and frustrated.”
In Saturday’s first game of an Alaska Baseball League doubleheader at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai, Calvin Farris was that man.
Farris hit a grand slam and also was the winning pitcher as the Oilers topped the Chinooks 12-7 in the opening game of the doubleheader. The good vibes continued in the second game, as the Oilers won 8-6 for their first consecutive wins of the season.
Both the Oilers and Chinooks are now 4-6 in the league. The six-game series, with Chugiak up 3-2, finishes with a 2 p.m. game today at Seymour Park.
The Oilers were down 5-2 entering the fifth inning of Saturday’s first game, but scored five runs in the fifth and sixth innings to take control of the game. Four of those runs in the sixth inning came on the blast by Farris to right field.
Farris told 1140 AM after the game that he went to the plate thinking he was going to hunt for a fastball, and he was able to get that fastball.
Farris then shut down the Chinooks from the mound in the top of the seventh for the win. He said collecting himself to pitch after the big home run was not difficult.
“Playing college baseball for three years now really taught me you can’t let your emotions get out of control,” Farris told 1140 AM.
The Oilers offense, which had scored just five runs in the first three games of the series, broke out with 13 hits in the game, with six players recording two hits. Those players were Camden Vasquez, Connor McCord, Farris, Damon Keith, Ethan Patrick and Jonathan Villa.
Farris had five RBIs in the game, while Bobby Goodloe, Patrick and Villa each had two RBIs. Vasquez scored three runs, while McCord, Goodloe and Keith each scored two.
Giancarlos Servin worked the first 2 2-3 innings for the Oilers, giving up five runs — three earned — on seven hits. Steven Ordorica also worked 2 2-3 innings, giving up two unearned runs on three hits.
The loss went to Honus Kindreich, who gave up five runs in two-thirds of an inning.
Daniel Freeman finished 2 for 2 with two RBIs and two runs to lead the Chinooks on offense.
Friday, the Oilers provided a textbook example of how to out-hit an opponent and still get blown out.
The Oilers collected eight hits to the seven of the Chinooks, yet still lost 9-1 thanks to costly errors, too many walks and a lack of clutch hitting.
Friday’s game was decided in the top of the third inning. The Chinooks entered that frame leading 1-0, then sent 12 batters to the plate in swelling the lead to 7-0.
Shortstop Skyler Messinger, second baseman Ethan Patrick and third baseman Victor Carlino all had crucial errors in the inning that led to none of the runs being earned.
Starter Jake Adams and reliever Brian Merken combined to walk four batters in the inning, making matters worse.
“It compounded quickly,” Brown said.
Adams would work 2 1-3 innings, giving up seven runs — one earned — on four hits while walking five and fanning three. Merken worked a scoreless two-thirds.
The only good news on the pitching and defense front came from Andrew Thorpe, who worked the last six innings and gave up two unearned runs on three hits while walking two and striking out five. The two unearned runs came on another error by Carlino, who was playing out of position.
“Andrew Thorpe picked up the team,” Brown said. “It was about the only positive thing for us. That lets us save pitching for the doubleheader tomorrow.”
The Oilers went on the road to defeat Chugiak 11-4 on Monday, but in the first three game of the home series Peninsula has scored just five runs.
Zach Sundine got the win, going six scoreless innings and allowing three hits while walking two and striking out eight.
“Our pitching has been great,” Chinooks coach Jon Groth said. “Our pitchers made some big pitches when they had to, and we played good defense.”
In the eighth, the Oilers had a runner at second with two outs when Carlino hit a pop-up to short right. Second baseman Paddy McKermitt, who was 2 for 4 with three RBIs, made a diving catch to get out of the inning.
Brown said getting on base has not been a problem. After leaving 10 players on base Friday, the Oilers have now left on 30 for the series.
Also for the Chinooks, Brandon Cody was 2 for 5 with two RBIs. For the Oilers, leadoff man Vasquez was 2 for 4 and Patrick was 2 for 3. Kenai Central product Paul Steffensen had the lone RBI, while Giancarlos Servin scored the run.