Sunday: Merchants’ Ruff pitches shutout against Oilers

The Peninsula Oilers’ 1-0 loss to the Everett (Washington) Merchants on Sunday in nonleague baseball action at Coral Seymour Memorial Park turned on a controversial call by the umpire.

But Oilers pitching coach Brian Daly was much more concerned with the team’s hitting after the game than he was with the umpires.

Just one day after Merchants starter Cody Culp held the Oilers (5-6 overall) to one run and eight hits in a complete game, Everett starter Ben Ruff pitched a complete-game shutout Sunday, allowing just one hit.

“What can you say, man?” Everett head coach Harold Pyatte said. “Two complete games by two different pitchers.”

Because of Ruff’s mastery, all the Merchants needed was the controversial run in the third inning.

With two outs, Ryan Sells grounded to third, but third baseman Alex Seifert threw wildly to first to allow Sells to reach second.

Mark Medalia then hit a hard grounder up the middle. Shortstop Jim Galusky somehow flagged the ball down, spun and threw in the dirt to first base.

The field empire threw up a clenched fist to indicate the batter was out, which would have ended the inning. The Oilers infielders relaxed accordingly while Sells kept trucking around third and toward home.

But then the umpire ruled first baseman Bennett Oliver had bobbled the ball, resulting in a single and game-winning RBI for Medalia.

Daly, who was in his last game serving as head coach for the Oilers while head coach Kevin Griffin was serving a suspension for making contact with an umpire, was not happy the ump gave the out sign and then went back on that decision as the run was crossing the plate.

“As far as I’m concerned, when the umpire gives the sign for the third out, the inning should be over,” Daly said.

At the same time, Daly wasn’t going to lay the blame for the loss on the umpire.

“Sometimes there’s good calls and sometimes there’s bad calls,” he said. “I’m not going to beat up an umpire.

“It’s our fault we didn’t score any runs.”

For that, the blame falls mostly on Ruff. After his college career, Ruff caught on with the Forth Worth (Texas) Cats, an independent minor league team, where he went 6-3 with a 4.50 ERA.

Ruff, 24, said he pitched well enough to earn all-league honors, but he said that didn’t change the fact that making $650 per month for five months out of the year is a hard way to make ends meet.

He used some baseball contacts to get a job with Expeditors International of Washington, Inc., and decided he didn’t want to leave the full-time job with benefits for minor league baseball.

Ruff said he turned down an offer to play pro ball with the Traverse City (Michigan) Beach Bums in order to keep his full-time job and play on the side for the Merchants.

“It’s nice to pitch without the stress of worrying about climbing up the ladder in professional baseball,” Ruff said.

He certainly was free and easy as he spotted his fastball, curveball and change-up for seven strikeouts. In the eighth inning, shortstop Ryan Malone dropped a towering pop fly in the swirling winds at Seymour Park, allowing Brent Diaz to reach second with one out.

But Malone made a sterling play to retire Blake Wilfong with the second out, and Ruff kept his cool on a Seifert come-backer to end the inning.

“Those things happen,” Ruff said of the misplayed fly ball. “There’s no stress. I knew he’d come back and make a play behind it.”

Matt Allen took the hard-luck loss for the Oilers, giving up an unearned run and hour hits in 5 2-3 innings. Shane Ennis and Jordan Kron kept the Merchants off the board in relief. The Oilers have a team ERA of just 2.03.

“I can’t say enough about them,” Daly said of the pitchers. “These guys are showing up every day and working their tails off.”

Although the Oilers are hitting just .219 as a team, Daly believes the runs will come. He said the big thing the team must learn is situational hitting.

He said the Oilers have a bunch of aggressive hitters, which is a good thing. But he said there are situations where the hitters must get more strategic.

Pyatte, whose team is now 11-3 overall, also pointed out that Seymour Park is simply a tough place for college players to adjust to swinging wood bats.

After playing a series in Kenai in a previous year, Pyatte came to Seymour Park this time ready to play his outfielders shallow and it has paid off, especially with the tying run getting thrown out at the plate from center field to end Saturday night’s game.

“Both teams had balls that would have been hits in any other ballpark, but not when the outfielders are playing just 225 feet from home plate,” Pyatte said.

The three-game series wraps up tonight with a 7 p.m. tilt at Seymour Park, and Pyatte promised his team would be energized.

“I told my starter for tomorrow to get some rest and he said he couldn’t because it’s always light out,” Pyatte said. “These guys just have so much energy up here.”


Merchants 1, Oilers 0

Mrchts AB R H BI Oilers AB R H BI

Drg cf 4 0 1 0 Wshm 2b 3 0 0 0

Holm rf 4 0 1 0 Glsy ss 4 0 1 0

RSls lf 3 1 0 0 Olvr 1b 4 0 0 0

Mdln dh 3 0 1 1 Flks cf 3 0 0 0

Lvn 1b 4 0 0 0 Rhm lf 3 0 0 0

Pble 2b 4 0 1 0 Diaz c 3 0 0 0

Mlne ss 3 0 0 0 Wlfg dh 3 0 0 0

Usln c 4 0 0 0 Sfrt 3b 3 0 0 0

Chk 3b 1 0 0 0 Wlsn rf 2 0 0 0

Tpsn 3b 2 0 1 0 —- — — — —

Totals 32 1 5 1 Totals 28 0 1 0

Everett 001 000 000 —1

Peninsula 000 000 000 —0

2B — Thompson. S — Malone, Washam. E — Ruhm, Seifert, Malone. LOB — Merchants 7, Oilers 3. DP — Oilers 1.



Ruff, L 9 1 0 0 1 7


Allen, L 5 2-3 4 1 0 2 4

Ennis 1-3 0 0 0 0 1

Kron 3 1 0 0 0 2

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