As a general rule, baseball people aren’t big fans of the rain.
But Peninsula Oilers head coach Brian Daly will be the first to admit he didn’t recoil in horror from the showers that blanketed the Kenai Peninsula on Thursday.
The Oilers were supposed to take on the Anchorage Glacier Pilots on Thursday in the first game of a three-game Alaska Baseball League postseason series at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai.
But with Thursday’s rain, the series is now just one game, scheduled for 3 p.m. today at Seymour Park.
The Mat-Su Miners and Anchorage Bucs were actually able to play their opener, with the host Miners notching a 4-1 victory Thursday.
“As far as the game getting canceled today, it was a blessing in disguise,” Daly said. “It was a gift getting the day off.
“The way we held up during the road trip was phenomenal.”
The reason the Oilers are hosting the series is they finished second in the ABL, just one game ahead of the Pilots.
That second-place finish was made possible by a gritty 5-5 finish on a season-ending road trip that saw the Oilers play 10 games in six days.
“We clearly would have liked to finish in first place, but we were still close,” said Daly, whose squad finished two games behind the Miners. “But we’ll have our hottest arms ready to go tomorrow and moving forward.”
Had the Oilers played all of the postseason games scheduled, that could have meant six nine-inning games in four days coming off the road trip of 10 games in six days.
“I think that would have been some kind of a record or something,” Daly said.
Daly said the way his team handled the tough road trip, getting great spot starts from pitchers like Yi-Hsin Huang and Junior Ramirez, has him feeling good headed into today’s game.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I think 90 percent, or more, of teams would have given up,” Daly said. “These guys stuck together.”
That’s not to stay the Pilots don’t present problems. The Oilers were 4-7 against them this year.
While Daly said some of those losses came while his club was short-handed, he did not dispute how good the Pilots are.
The coach tabbed Pilots infielders Joe Gillette and Kyle Watson as players who have a good shot of succeeding at the next level.
“They have a great team and they’re usually near the top every year,” Daly said. “They have great pitching, very, very good defenders, and their bats are solid.”
But Daly said the comforts of home-field advantage should not be overlooked. And if the Oilers need any more motivation, there’s always the All-Alaska Baseball League team.
The Oilers did not get any of the major awards. Daly sent a sheet with various statistical comparisons to fellow league coaches and Pete Christopher, league president, voicing his displeasure.
Daly thought Alex Seifert, the defending winner of the Gold Glove, should have won again. Seifert played five different positions for the Oilers this season and Daly said he did not make an error.
Daly also thought Jonathan Washam of the Oilers should have beaten out Garrison Schwartz of the Miners for top hitting prospect. Washam led the ABL with a .344 average, while the next player in line hit .321 and Schwartz was at .275.
The coach also thought Seth DeWitt of the Oilers should have been the first-team first baseman over Jake Scudder of the Miners, and he couldn’t believe Oilers starter Justin Montgomery didn’t make the first or second team.
Montgomery was 4-2 with a 2.83 ERA, striking out 39 and walking 23 in 54 innings pitched. Montgomery was an All-Star Game starter and was one out from a no-hitter against the Miners.
The final player Daly stuck up for was Darius Hill, who was a second-team outfielder.
“A lot of things have gone against us this year, but I’m still liking our chances in the playoffs, especially if we can win tomorrow,” Daly said.
Billy Oxford will get the start for the Oilers. Oxford is 3-2 with a 1.47 ERA this season.