On the night Coral Seymour Memorial Park debuted its brand-new scoreboard in left field, the Peninsula Oilers delivered a much-needed victory to the local fans, handing the Anchorage Glacier Pilots a 5-1 Alaska Baseball League loss Thursday night in Kenai.
Led by the dominant pitching of Raymond Kerr, the last-place Oilers moved to 4-10 overall, two games behind the fourth-place Chugiak Chinooks and six back of the league-leading Mat-Su Miners, who are at 10-4.
Kerr started on the mound for the Oilers and went six innings, giving up a run on two hits and a walk, while striking out four. Kerr’s multidimensional approach allowed him to force 10 ground-outs.
“The mind-set I have to have is that I’m better than any batter I see,” Kerr explained. “If I let a hit down the middle, I let them down.”
The 6-foot-3 lefty out of Reno, Nevada, made quick work of the opening three innings, retiring the first 10 batters he saw with a fastball and a deft cutter that moved down in the zone.
Kerr gave up a perfect game in the top of the fourth with a walk issued to Tipler, but promptly induced a double play on the next batter to end the frame. In the fifth, Kerr finally relinquished his hold on a no-hitter after a two-out single by Cade Harris.
After a slow start to the season and a host of players arriving late to Kenai from their college teams, Kerr said with the team chemistry is coming together nicely.
“We were screwing around like men down in the (bullpen),” Kerr quipped after he made his exit from the mound. “Those guys are funny down there.”
With the radiantly red, energy-saving lights of the new board shining across the field, Oilers first baseman Caleb Hicks christened the board — donated by the Oilers Booster Club — by putting up the first three runs on a bases-clearing double in the first inning. Hicks finished the night with four RBIs.
“It’s good to see (the runs) up there,” Hicks said about the new scoreboard. “I was just trying to stay relaxed and focus on having fun out there, but I’m just happy to get the win, we needed this bad.”
Hicks plated another run in the third frame with a single, and Oliver Dunn brought in a run in the seventh with a sacrifice fly. Hicks and Dunn teamed up nicely on the field as well with seven relays to first base for outs.
Hicks also got to close the game in the top of the ninth, allowing a pair of base runners before retiring the final three to secure the win. Mason Corneliussen relieved Kerr in the seventh and pitched shutout ball for two innings, giving up one base hit and striking out two.
Alden Huschle started for the Pilots and went the distance with eight innings of work, giving up four earned runs on six hits and six walks, while striking out five.
Huschle immediately found himself in a jam by loading the bases on two walks and a single before Hicks smacked a deep double to the the center-field wall to clear the bases and put the Oilers up 3-0.
In the bottom of the third, John Thomas walked, advanced on a wild pitch, then scored on a single by Hicks, who was thrown out trying to reach second.
Thomas Ruddy drew a two-out walk in the bottom of the fourth and Ryan Smith singled, but Mikey Hoehner grounded out to end the threat.
The Pilots finally got on the board in the top of the fifth starting with a two-out single by Harris, who wound up scoring on a single by Andre Gregory.
After two listless innings, the Oilers offense loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh, starting with a two-out popup by Smith that dropped to the infield for an error. Smith scored on a sacrifice fly by Dunn.