Oilers steamroll Chinooks to reach 10th win

Oilers steamroll Chinooks to reach 10th win

On the heels of a successful 5-2 road trip, the Peninsula Oilers returned home to Coral Seymour Memorial Park and picked up right where they left off.

The Oilers steamrolled the Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks in a 9-1 victory Wednesday night in Alaska Baseball League play to become the first team to double-digit wins at 10-4. The Oilers stand three games ahead of the second-place Mat-Su Miners (7-7). The Chinooks dropped to last in the ABL at 5-8.

The Oilers busted the game wide open with a six-run fourth inning that was highlighted by two bases-loaded, two-run hits by Ryan Novis and Grant Wood.

The run support backed up another sparkling outing by starting pitcher Bryan Woo, who gave up one run over five innings of efficient pitching. Woo gave up three hits and a walk while whiffing three, leaving his ERA at a tiny 1.00 after two starts.

“It’s been a symbiotic relationship (between hitting and pitching) for us,” said Oilers head coach Kyle Brown. “It’s a process that the guys are buying into … we’re not only winning, but the team is coming together.”

The Oilers continue their five-game homestand with the Chinooks tonight at 7 p.m.

After staking out an eight-run lead, Calvin Farris and Andrew Lopez combined to pitch four relief innings of hitless, scoreless ball for the Oilers. Farris struck out two and walked one, while Lopez whiffed one over the final two frames.

All said, the Oilers pitching and defense allowed just five Chinooks base runners. On their end, the Oilers got a base hit out of every batter save one, catcher John Mackay, and outhit the Chinooks 8 to 3.

Ryan Koch, who knocked in the first run of the night on a double in the first inning, said the emphasis has been keeping the team focus on small segments of the season, rather than watching the whole picture.

“It’s been about breaking the season up into fifths,” Koch said. “Our task has been what can we do on the offensive side of things?”

Koch is ninth in the ABL with a .279 batting average, and his first-inning RBI hit left him tied for the league lead in doubles with four. Teammate Evan Berkey, Wednesday’s leadoff batter, is sixth in the league with a .300 average.

“My philosophy is just to stay aggressive from the first pitch,” Koch said. “You don’t want to let any pitches get away.”

Chugiak starter Michael Barker was pulled in the fourth inning after 77 pitches. Barker gave up eight runs on five hits in 3 1/3 innings and walked six. Brown said he knew the Chinooks were working with a tired rotation and bullpen, and that allowed the Oilers to capitalize on Chugiak, which lost its third in a row.

“They’ve had a rough patch and we jumped on their starting pitcher,” Brown said.

River Carbone came on in relief and gave up a run on three hits in 2 2/3 innings, and Luke VanDover pitched two frames of scoreless, hitless ball with two strikeouts.

Koch’s first-inning RBI double brought Berkey home for a quick lead and was swiftly followed up with an RBI double by Brian Leonhardt that scored Koch but also ended the frame when the throw home caught Wood out, putting Peninsula up 2-0.

In the fourth, the Oilers brought 11 batters to the plate and loaded the bases three times in a six-run explosion. The frame started when a base hit by Kunst fell into shallow center field, and the throw from Chugiak’s Anthony Forte soared high and into the dugout, bringing Mackay in for a 3-0 lead.

Matthew Kirk brought in another run on a double that just got by right fielder Seth Ballenger, and Barker loaded the bases with one out, allowing Novis to capitalize with a two-run double on a grounder smoked down the left field line, pushing the lead to 6-0.

Barker loaded the bases again when he hit Koch with a pitch, forcing the Chinooks to make a pitching change, putting Carbone in for Barker.

Wood tagged Carbone immediately with a two-run single to push the lead to eight runs. Mackay drew a walk from Carbone to load the bags for the third time in the frame, but Leonhardt grounded into a double play to end the inning.

J Paul Fullerton snapped the shutout for Woo in the fifth inning with a loud RBI triple to center field that got by a diving Novis and trickled to the warning track.

Berkey tacked on another run in the bottom of the fifth with an RBI single.

Oilers steamroll Chinooks to reach 10th win

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