PALMER — In each of his last two starts against the Mat-Su Miners, Peninsula’s Raymond Kerr used six strong innings to earn a win on the mound for the Oilers. Kerr pitched another six solid innings Monday night, but found himself on the losing end of a pitching duel.
Mat-Su starter Spencer Henson threw seven scoreless innings, and a pair of relievers helped blank the Oilers 3-0 at Hermon Brothers Field in Palmer.
“He was big-time. We needed that,” Mat-Su head coach Ben Taylor said of Henson. “We needed a big-time performance from a big-time pitcher, and that’s exactly what we got.”
Henson allowed eight hits over seven, struck out two and walked two. Zach Hardy and Josh Green pitched a scoreless inning each, and Green got the save.
Kerr scattered four hits and two earned runs over six. He fanned six and walked only one.
Henson was also helped by a number of key plays from his defense. Among the biggest plays came early, in the top of the second. Ryan Smith doubled for the Oilers with two outs. Jack Bauer followed with a single. Smith tried to score from second, but Mat-Su outfielder Quin Cotton made the throw and gunned Smith down at the plate.
“That had to happen,” Taylor said of the play. “We did what we had to do.”
Miners third baseman Oscar Marchena and left fielder Elijah MacNamee also made catches in foul territory to end innings. Marchena made a catch at the fence along the third-base line in the third. Later in the game, MacNamee slid through the Oilers bullpen to make a catch.
Miners catcher Ryan Haug also gunned down a runner at second.
“We had to do it,” Taylor said of the improved play on defense. “We hadn’t played very good defense as a unit the last couple of nights.”
Mike Antico scored a run and drove in another to lead the Miners at the plate. Marchena and Preston Pavlica also scored runs.
Kerr and Mikey Hoehner had two hits each to lead the Oilers.
With the win, league-leading Mat-Su improved to 22-14. Peninsula dropped to 16-21. The teams meet again Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Hermon Brothers.