Panners top Oilers in slugfest

Listening to Alaska Goldpanners manager Mike Grahovac talk after his team’s 13-10 Sunday victory over the Peninsula Oilers at Coral Seymour Memorial Park, it was hard not to think back to the Oilers squad of 2011.

That season, head coach Dennis Machado recruited a team heavily from California specifically to win the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kansas.

Those Oilers cruised to the Alaska Baseball League title and finished second in Wichita.

Before this season, Grahovac knew his team would be playing in the World Series, which favors offensive baseball.

He recruited heavily from California and the Panners have rolled to a 21-8 ABL record and American League title. They will take on the Mat-Su Miners this week in the Top of the World Series to determine ABL supremacy.

“When I recruited guys, I recruited guys that knew each other from California,” said Grahovac, the head coach at Concordia University Irvine in California. “I was also familiar with them because I’m in California.”

The result has been an offensive explosion, such as the eight-run sixth inning that was the difference in Sunday’s home finale for the Oilers.

In league play this season, the Panners are batting .317 with an on-base percentage of .411. Their 212 runs and 36 home runs also lead the league. Despite the power numbers, their 158 strikeouts are a league low.

“Everywhere we’ve played, they’ve never held our offense,” Grahovac said. “We have guys that can hit the ball a long way and we have guys that hit line drives.

“We also have team speed.”

Oilers head coach Kyle Richardson was an assistant on the 2011 Oilers, and he said the comparison between the 2011 Oilers and 2014 Goldpanners is fair, although those Oilers finished league play hitting .250 but with a team ERA of just 2.28. The Panners have a team ERA of 4.06, but play in an offensive ballpark compared to the pitcher’s paradise at Seymour Park.

“California is such a huge state and there are so many baseball colleges,” he said. “They all play that West Coast style of small ball — scrappy and they never give up.

“It’s hard to beat teams like that on a consistent basis.”

The Goldpanners got their 13 runs on 19 hits, four doubles and home runs by Tanner Pinkston and Eric Hutting. Cody Nulph was 4 for 6 with three runs and two RBIs, while Jacob Hayes was 3 for 6.

The Oilers countered in the slugfest with 14 hits, four doubles and a home run by Josh Rose.

Rose finished 3 for 4 with two runs and three RBIs, while Nick Rogowski was 3 for 3, and Jeff Paschke and Gabriel Munoz had two hits apiece.

“I’m happy with the way we swung the bats,” Richardson said. “Those were some of their big contributors. They weren’t just guys who had thrown a few innings this season.”

Scott Torrey took the loss for the Oilers, going five innings and giving up five runs on 11 hits.

The big sixth inning belonged to Cody Richey, who gave up eight runs (six earned) on seven hits in one inning.

Richardson said the Oilers were short in the bullpen due to injury and a lot of games lately, with only Mitchel Daugherty and Chad Rieser available after Richey. That meant Richey had to get those three outs even though he was getting hit hard.

“He had to wear it, so to speak,” Richardson said.

The Oilers fall to 11-22 in the ABL and will end their season with a 6 p.m. away contest against the Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks today.

Richardson did not want to leave town without thanking the community for making the Oilers season happen. From general manager James Clark doing a ton of work behind the scenes, to all the volunteers, to all the fan support, Richardson said he appreciated what the organization does for the coaches and players.

“We realize the season does not start in June,” he said. “All the behind-the-scenes work takes place all year.”

Oilers notes: Oilers centerfielder Jake Sandlin hurt his knee making a catch in deep left-center field to end the top of the fourth inning. Sandlin tangled legs with leftfielder Jordan Sanford on the play. Sandlin went to the hospital for further evaluation during the game and Richardson did not have an update on his status following the game.

Sunday

Panners 13, Oilers 10

Panners AB R H BI Oilers AB R H BI

Crso lf 6 2 2 1 Jnes 3b 5 1 1 0

Nlph ss 6 3 4 2 Hrdz 2b 2 1 0 0

Hyes rf 6 1 3 1 Rbwz ss 3 1 1 2

Bzan dh 5 1 2 2 Sdln cf 2 1 1 0

Pksn 1b 5 1 1 3 Rgki cf 3 1 3 1

Vlva 2b 4 2 2 1 Zrte 1b 3 0 0 0

Plno 2b 0 0 0 0 Trmn 1b 2 1 1 2

Hrst cf 5 1 2 1 Pske dh 5 1 2 1

Bynm cf 0 0 0 0 Mnz c 5 1 2 0

Httg c 4 1 2 1 Snfd lf 4 0 0 0

Clk 3b 4 1 1 1 Rose 4 2 3 3

Mdbg 3b 1 0 0 0 —- — — — —

Totals 46 13 19 13 Totals 38 10 14 9

Panners 001 138 000 —13

Oilers 011 022 004 —10

B — Caruso, Nulph 2, Bozoian, Hutting, Jones, Sandlin, Thurman, Paschke, Munoz. HR — Pinkston, Hutting, Rose. SF — Rubanowitz 2. SH — Hernandez 2. SB — Hurst. CS — Hayes. LOB — Goldpanners 9, Oilers 6. DP — Oilers 1, Panners 1. E — Rubanowitz, Torrey, Clark, Belk.

IP H R ER BB SO

Panners

Belk 2 2-3 2 2 0 0 0

Ford, W 2 1-3 4 2 2 0 2

Buehler, S 4 8 6 6 1 1

Oilers

Torrey, L 5 11 5 4 0 2

Richey 1 7 8 6 2 1

Daugherty 1 1 0 0 1 1

Rieser 2 0 0 0 0 3

WP — Richey. P-S — Belk 41-31, Ford 30-22, Buehler 61-42, Torrey 75-50, Richey 52-25, Daugherty 18-10, Rieser 28-18. T — 2:49.

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