The Peninsula Oilers returned to their winning ways Wednesday night at Lee Jordan Field in Eagle River, and it may be just what they need heading into tonight.
An 8-2 victory over the Chugiak/Eagle River Chinooks in Alaska Baseball League play snapped a four-game losing streak for the Oilers (12-8) and put them back on top of the ABL standings, a half game ahead of the Mat-Su Miners (11-8), who lost Wednesday.
The Miners routed the Oilers to the tune of 17-1 in a Tuesday night contest, which put the Miners into the league lead. Wednesday’s results swapped the two teams again leading into Thursday’s pivotal matchup between the Oilers and Miners, a 7 p.m. start time.
The Oilers prevailed over the Chinooks with late offense, scoring five runs in the top of the ninth to distance themselves.
Oilers starter Mike Lopez stepped up with another clean outing on the mound, throwing five innings and giving up one unearned run on four hits, five strikeouts and zero walks. The Cal State San Marcos right-hander hasn’t allowed an earned run in ABL play this summer through 22 innings.
Calvin Farris, however, ended up with the win in two frames of scoreless relief, giving up just one hit. Andrew Lopez allowed a run on two hits in the eighth and Oilers closer Bret Ricklefs shut the door in the ninth with a scoreless, hitless inning.
Paul Kunst hit 2 for 4 for the Oilers and Ryan Novis was 2 for 5 to lead the local nine. Evan Berkey batted in three runs.
The Chinooks struck first in the bottom of the second with an RBI single by Logan White.
The Oilers answered in the fifth with two runs, tying the contest with a Brian Leonhardt single and taking the lead on a single by Grant Wood.
Berkey brought in a run on a sacrifice fly in the eighth to put the Oilers up 3-1 after Ryan Koch picked up two bases on errors, but in the bottom of the inning, Bailey Collins belted a two-out RBI double to the warning track that cut the gap to 3-2.
The Oilers tacked on some big insurance runs in the top of the ninth starting with a bases-loaded walk to Koch. Berkey and Novis followed up with consecutive two-run doubles to stretch the lead.