The visiting Peninsula Oilers swept an Alaska Baseball League doubleheader from the league-leading Mat-Su Miners on Sunday, winning the first game 5-1 and scoring three times in the seventh inning to take the second game 5-3.
Benjamin Wagner had a bases-loaded double to score all three runs in the seventh and cap a day where he was 5 for 7 and also had a home run.
The wins are crucial as the Oilers battle to be one of the top four teams in the five-team league and make it into the Top of the World Series. The Oilers are now 16-20 in the league, good for fourth place and two games clear of the fifth-place Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks.
Peninsula is 5 1-2 games behind the Miners. Those two teams face off again today at 6 p.m. at Hermon Brothers Field.
In the second game, Josh Green came in to close out the game for the Miners, but he hit Isaac Deveaux to lead off the inning, then walked Kellen Strahm.
However, Green recovered quickly, putting down the next two batters. He should have been out of the inning, but Caleb Hicks reached on an error by the third baseman to load the bases.
Wanger made the Miners pay with a double that cleared the bases.
The tense times were not over as Tyler Waldrop came in to pitch for Trent Paddon for the Oilers. Waldrop gave up a run in the seventh, but was able to nail down the save.
Paddon got the win, giving up eight hits and two runs — one earned — in six innings. Paddon walked two and struck out four.
The Oilers had six hits in the game, with Raymond Kerr going 3 for 3 and Wanger going 3 for 4.
In the first game, the Oilers rode a solid pitching performance from Preston Plovanich to the win. Plovanich went six innings, giving up six hits and one earned run while walking three and striking out seven. Plovanich improved to 1-4 on the season with a 4.96 ERA.
Billy Clemens pitched the final inning, walking one and striking out one.
The Oilers jumped on Miners starter and loser Jake Butcher for three runs in the first inning, an important start when the games are so close. Butcher gave up five runs — two earned — and six hits in 5 1-3 innings. All three of those unearned runs came in the first inning.
The Oilers went up 4-0 in the fourth when Wanger led off with a home run.
In the top of the sixth, Peninsula made it 5-0 when Nathan Webb led off with a double and scored on a single by Wanger. Mat-Su would scored its lone run of the game in the bottom of the sixth.
Wanger finished 2 for 3 for the Oilers, who had eight base hits but four extra-base hits. Oscar Marchena and Blake Benefield were 2 for 3 for the Miners.