Oilers drop crucial game to Panners

The Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks defeated the Peninsula Oilers 6-1 on Tuesday at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai in a game that the Oilers placed under protest due to a disputed call in the bottom of the seventh inning.

If the game stands, the Oilers fall to 15-19 in the league, 5 1-2 games behind the Anchorage Bucs in the American League. If a rainout against the Bucs is not made up, the Oilers have just five games left and can’t catch the Bucs.

The Goldpanners, meanwhile, improve to 8-27 by snapping an eight-game losing streak. The Oilers host the Panners tonight at 6 p.m. and in a Thursday doubleheader at 5 p.m.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Oilers were trailing 5-0 and had the bases loaded with nobody out. JD Arrowood hit a grounder to shortstop and the Panners turned the double play, allowing the run to score.

However, the umpire called runner interference on James Fowlkes running to second base. That meant the double play stood but the Oilers runners had to return to second and third base, wiping the run off the board.

Oilers head coach Kevin Griffin argued with the field umpire and was ejected. Griffin said after the game he was told Fowlkes had to slide. Griffin said, as far as he knows, the ABL operates under American League rules and there is no rule to slide. The umpires declined an interview as they were walking off the field.

“The game is under protest because I think it is the wrong call,” Griffin said.

Oilers starter and loser Josh Medeles, who came into the game 2-1 with a 0.80 ERA, had his first rough outing of the season. In lasting four innings, Medeles gave up three runs — one earned — on just one hit while walking five.

The Panners were able to score Evan Cassolato on a sacrifice fly by Austin O’Banion in the first inning.

In the fourth inning, Medeles walked O’Banion to lead off the fourth and put him at second with a wild pitch. Mahlik Jones then laid down a sacrifice bunt and third baseman Ted Boeke threw wildly to first, allowing O’Banion to score and Jones to take third. He would score on a ground-out for a 3-0 lead.

After struggling to score runs lately, Panners head coach Jamie Sluys was happy with how his team executed offensively.

“We’ve been hitting a lot of balls right at people,” Sluys said. “We executed offensively and moved our guys around.

“Mahlik Jones had a great bunt. That was a do-or-die play for their third baseman.”

In the top of the seventh, the Panners stretched the lead to 5-0 against reliever Travis Holden when J.D. Hearn walked and Riley Roberts scored him on a triple. Roberts would score on a ground-out.

Panners starter Joe Fernandez, who came into the game 3-2 with a 2.37 ERA, shut the Oilers down over six innings to earn the win. Fernandez allowed his first and only hit in the sixth inning and struck out eight.

“It’s good to win again,” Sluys said. “We got great pitching and executed our plays when we had to.”

The Oilers avoided the shutout in the eighth against reliever John Schreiber, when Brian Ruhm singled, stole second and third, and scored on a grounder by Alex Seifert.

“I’d like to thank the Panners fans,” Sluys said. “We would have liked to get one before we left, but we’re still playing for the city of Fairbanks and the Goldpanners.”

With a berth in the Top of the World Series slipping away, Griffin said the Oilers aren’t throwing in the towel.

“They have to play for themselves, they have to play for the fans and they have to play for the respect of the game for the rest of the season,” Griffin said of his squad.

Tuesday

Panners 6, Oilers 1

Panners AB R H BI Oilers AB R H BI

Cslo cf 4 1 0 1 Ruhm rf 3 1 2 0

Bush 1b 2 0 1 0 Sfrt 2b 4 0 0 1

Mtnz c 4 0 1 1 Sncz c 4 0 1 0

O’Bn rf 3 1 1 1 Diaz dh 3 0 0 0

Jnes 3b 4 1 0 0 Olvr lf 1 0 0 0

Crlo ss 3 0 0 1 Rvra lf 1 0 1 0

Bynm lf 3 0 0 0 Flks cf 3 0 1 0

Hrn 2b 2 1 0 0 Arwd 1b 4 0 0 0

Rbts dh 4 2 2 1 Bke 3b 3 0 0 0

—- — — — — Glsy ss 3 0 0 0

Totals 29 6 5 5 Totals 29 1 5 1

Fairbanks 100 200 201 —6

Peninsula 000 000 010 —1

2B — Martinez, O’Banion. 3B — Roberts. SF — O’Banion. S — Martinez. SB — Hearn, Ruhm. CS — Bynum, Rivera. E — Boeke. LOB — Goldpanners 7, Oilers 6. DP — Panners 2, Oilers 1.

IP H R ER BB SO

Goldpanners

Fernandez, W 6 1 0 0 3 8

Schreiber 2 3 1 1 2 1

Franks 1 1 0 0 0 1

Oilers

Medeles, L 4 1 3 1 6 1

Holden 3 1 2 2 2 0

Kron 1 1 0 0 0 1

Ennis 1 2 1 1 1 2

WP — Medeles.

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