PALMER — Mat-Su Miners catcher Ryan Haug had arguably his team’s biggest hit during the month of July. Haug came up big once again in August.
Haug, who drove in the lone run during a 1-0 victory over the Anchorage Bucs that snapped a season-long four-game losing streak for the Miners in mid-July, used an RBI single to snap a scoreless tie and provide the go-ahead run during a 3-1 win over the Peninsula Oilers in the first game of a best-of-3 Alaska Baseball League playoffs semifinal series.
“That guy has been in big positions at the University of Arizona. He’s played in Omaha. He’s an older guy and came up big when we needed him the most,” Mat-Su head coach Ben Taylor said of Haug after the win.
Mat-Su starter Spencer Henson pitched seven scoreless innings to help the Miners get the victory.
“Spencer was Spencer,” Taylor said. “His heart and his guts are as big as his body, and he put it on the line for us pitch after pitch after pitch. That’s why he was our pitcher of the year.”
Henson allowed only three hits. He struck out four and walked four.
Henson also got the best of a pitching duel. Peninsula starter Preston Plovanich was also strong, scattering four hits and an earned run over six innings. He fanned five and walked four.
“He kept us off balance. He threw his breaking ball for a strike. He did a heck of a job,” Taylor said.
Mat-Su’s Quin Cotton walked and scored from second on the Haug single to give the Miners the 1-0 lead in the sixth. The Miners added to the advantage with a pair in the seventh. Brandon Chinea led of the inning with bloop single and scored on a Cotton single to right. Blake Benefield added an RBI later in the inning.
The Miners are now a win away from their fourth straight trip to the ABL Top of the World Series championship set. Mat-Su hosts the Oilers in the second game of the series Thursday at 2 p.m. at Hermon Brothers. A third game, if necessary, would follow.
The Oilers had three players named to the 2017 ABL First All-League Team on Wednesday— Nathan Webb at third base, Kellen Strahm as an outfielder and Raymond Kerr as pitcher.
Additionally, the Oilers placed Trent Paddon on the ABL Second All-League Team as a relief pitcher and Strahm made it as a designated hitter.
Peninsula Clarion reporter Joey Klecka contributed to this report
Alaska Baseball League First All-League Team
First base — Blake Benefield, Miners; Second base — Cody Sporrer, Bucs; Shortstop — Andre Gregory, Pilots; Third base — Nathan Webb, Oilers; Catcher — Ryan Haug, Miners; Utility — Cuba Bess, Pilots; Outfield — Quin Cotton, Miners; Todd Lott, Bucs; Kellen Strahm, Oilers.
Starting pitcher — Raymond Kerr, Oilers; Logan Boyer, Bucs; Kyle Tyler, Pilots; John Doxakis, Miners; Spencer Henson, Miners.
Relief pitcher — Thad Ward, Miners; Andrew Kneussle, Bucs; Tyler Wilburn, Pilots; Closer — Josh Green, Miners.
DH — Pete DerKay, Bucs.
Player of Year — Quin Cotton.
Top Prospect — Todd Lott, Bucs.
Gold Glove — Jeremy Johnson, Chinooks.
Silver Slugger — Quin Cotton, Miners.