Panners topple Oilers in extra innings

Knowing the Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks had no pitchers to bring in behind him, Lawrence Stewart took ending the game into his own hands on a brilliant Sunday summer afternoon at Coral Seymour Memorial Park.

Stewart singled through a drawn-in infield in the 10th inning to score Riley Roberts and give the Panners a 2-1 victory over the Peninsula Oilers in Alaska Baseball League action.

The Oilers, now 2-1 in the league and 3-1 overall, travel to Anchorage to face the Bucs at 7 p.m. today.

The Panners, now 1-2 in the league and 1-3 overall, played the season-opening series with just 13 players on a roster expected to reach 25.

That meant the squad had to do things like have a catcher play in the outfield and have the pitchers hit for themselves. Fairbanks also currently has just six pitchers on the roster, meaning the Panners had nobody to bring in behind Stewart if the game went deep into extra innings.

It looked like that could cost Fairbanks in the top of the 10th, when Stewart came to the plate with runners on second and third and one out.

Stewart didn’t exactly get all of an offering from Oilers reliever Paul Lujan, but it was enough to squeeze the ball up the middle and through the shallow infielders.

Not bad for a guy who hadn’t hit in a game since two years ago in high school.

“I’ve jumped in the cage a couple of times since then when the pitchers get to take batting practice due to a shutout,” Stewart said. “But I haven’t seen live pitching.”

The irony was the Panners had struggled in clutch situations all day, leaving 15 runners on base.

“I’m a big fan of pressure,” Stewart said. “I think every guy on this field likes to be in pressure situations.”

The Fairbanks pitchers also had a fine day when they were on the mound. Sean Bennetts pitched the first seven innings, giving up four hits and an earned run while walking none at striking out six. Stewart gave up just one hit in three scoreless innings while striking out three and walking none.

“Their pitcher did a good job,” Oilers head coach Kevin Griffin said of Bennetts. “He spotted the ball up pretty good.

“We had a couple opportunities we weren’t able to take advantage of.”

The Panners took the lead in the top of the third when Andrew Carrillo singled on Oilers starter Cameron Stanton and scored on a single by Nate Verlin.

But the Oilers bounced right back in the bottom of the frame when catcher Lukas Hermanson, who led the Oilers at the plate with a 2-for-3 effort, did a great job of hustling from first to third on a one-out single by Jordan Washam, allowing him to score on a sac fly by Ted Boeke.

The Oilers’ best chance to win came in the bottom of the ninth, when James Fowlkes led off with a walk and was bunted to second by Bennett Oliver. But Jimmy Galusky and Adam Moreau flew out to end the threat.

Griffin wasn’t about to push the panic button after getting just five hits in 10 innings, especially since his pitching staff allowed just four runs in the first four games of the season. Shane Ennis and Sean Michel had scoreless relief appearances Sunday, while Stanton allowed just one run in six innings.

“We played four games with them and won three of four,” Griffin said. “We’ll be all right.”

Panners head coach Jeff Stephens also comes away from the series with a positive outlook.

“We’ll be getting more players soon, but the guys we have are competing,” Stephens said. “That’s all I care about.”

The Panners were able to bang out 11 hits on the day. Nathan Reynolds led the squad with three hits, while Spencer Nielsen and Riley Roberts had two hits apiece.

Sunday

Panners 2, Oilers 1, 10 inn.

Panners AB R H BI Oilers AB R H BI

Crlo 3b 3 1 0 0 Wshm 2b 5 0 1 0

Nlsn ss 6 0 2 0 Bke 3b 1 0 1 1

Vrln 1b 3 0 1 1 Rhm lf 4 0 0 0

Mrtz c 4 0 0 0 Flks rf 3 0 0 0

Les lf 4 0 0 0 Olvr dh 3 0 0 0

Rbts cf 5 1 2 0 Glsy ss 4 0 0 0

Rnds 2b 5 0 3 0 Mreu 1b 4 0 1 0

Btlr rf 4 0 1 0 Hrsn c 3 1 2 0

Bnts p 2 0 1 0 R vra pr 0 0 0 0

Strt p 2 0 1 1 Wlfg c 1 0 0 0

—- — — — — Wlsn cf 3 0 0 0

Totals 38 2 11 2 Totals 31 1 5 1

Fairbanks 001 000 000 0 —2

Peninsula 001 000 000 0 —2

S — Bennetts, Carillo, Oliver. SF — Boeke. SB — Carillo, Reynolds 2, Verlin, Boeke 2. CS — Reynolds, Moreau. E — Reynolds, Nielsen, Boeke. LOB — Panners 15, Oilers 6. DP — Panners 3, Oilers 1.

IP H R ER BB SO

Panners

Bennetts 7 4 1 1 0 6

Stewart, W 3 1 0 0 3 1

Oilers

Stanton 6 7 1 1 4 5

Ennis 2 1 0 0 0 0

Michel 1 0 0 0 2 1

Lujan, L 1 3 1 1 0 2

WP — Stewart. HBP — by Bennetts (Boeke). PB — Wilfong.

T — 2:30.

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