The Peninsula Oilers dropped the finale of a four-game series with the Mat-Su Miners 8-3 to take a series split Tuesday night at Hermon Brothers Field in Palmer.
After notching a doubleheader sweep of the Miners on Sunday, the Oilers lost 3-0 Monday and 8-3 Tuesday, tightening up the race for the last playoff spot in the Alaska Baseball League standings.
With the Chugiak Chinooks picking up a win Tuesday, the Oilers (16-22) retain the fourth spot in the ABL standings by a slim half game over Chugiak (15-22).
After a day off Wednesday, the Oilers come home for a crucial four-game series with the Chinooks, starting Thursday at 6 p.m. and continuing with a Friday doubleheader and a 2 p.m. Saturday matinee.
Austin Dennis scored on a passed ball by Hayes in the first inning to open the scoring, then the Miners really opened it up in the second inning with three runs on a double by Austin Bull and singles by Dennis and Quin Cotton, pushing the lead to 4-0. Dennis finished 3 for 4 with four runs.
Mat-Su tacked on two more runs on a two-run single by Elijah MacNamee in the fifth, bolstering its lead to 6-0.
Down 7-0, the Oilers finally answered in the top of the seventh with a solo shot over the fence by Benjamin Wanger, his second homer of the summer. Kellen Strahm grounded into fielder’s choice to score a run and Thomas Ruddy scored on a throw to second to catch a baserunner, cutting the gap to 7-3.
Devin Hayes received the loss on the mound, giving up six runs (five earned) on seven hits and two walks, while striking out three. Kyle Lucke and Michael LeBeau combined in the relief effort, with Lucke striking out four and giving up a run in two innings of four-hit relief, and LeBeau giving up a run in the final frame.
Mat-Su’s John Doxakis earned the win with eight strikeouts over seven innings, giving up three runs on seven hits and two walks.
Jack Bauer led the Peninsula offense with a 2-for-2 day, while Strahm, Nathan Webb, Mikey Hoehner and Ryan Smith each had a base hit to go along with Wanger’s homer. Overall, Mat-Su outhit Peninsula 12 to 7.