Sunday: Rain halts Oilers-Pilots game while it is still scoreless

The skies, the Peninsula Oilers and the Anchorage Glacier Pilots all did plenty of threatening Sunday afternoon at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai.

Only the gloomy clouds delivered on their threat, leaving this Alaska Baseball League game scoreless and to be decided at a later date.

The game will be started in the top of the sixth inning, with the Glacier Pilots batting with two outs and nobody on base. That resumption will likely happen Thursday in Anchorage — the only time the Oilers and Pilots are scheduled to meet for the rest of the season.

Immediately following the top of the second inning, the umpires called a rain delay just 25 minutes into the game.

The showers quickly abated, but the field had taken a lot of rain, and players and coaches worked to get it dry again. After a little under an hour, the game was on.

But the rain started again in the bottom of the fourth inning. The game ended in the top of the sixth inning when a bizarre play made it clear how unplayable the field had become.

Eugene Vazquez of the Glacier Pilots grounded the ball to shortstop Jim Galusky. He had trouble handling the ball, but it didn’t matter because Vazquez was still spinning his tires in the batter’s box.

By that point, Oilers head coach Kevin Griffin said that the infield had taken so much water that putting the tarp on and waiting for the showers to clear wouldn’t have worked, because the tarp would have simply sealed in all that water.

A game needs to go five innings to be official, or 4 1-2 if the home team is ahead. Both teams had ample opportunities to end this one early.

The Glacier Pilots put a runner on third with nobody out in the first inning, but Oilers starter Josh Medeles struck out two and induced a popup to end the threat.

In the third, the Pilots had runners on first and second with nobody out, but again two strikeouts and a fly ball were enough for Medeles to escape. In the fourth, Medeles worked around a one-out double.

“I was impressed by how he came back after such a long layoff,” Griffin said. “He definitely worked out of some jams that allowed it to stay a scoreless game.”

Medeles gave up two hits in four innings, walking five and striking out seven. Brandon VanStone worked 1 2-3 innings of perfect relief.

Pilots starter Will Hibbs also navigated traffic to keep a clean sheet, giving up five hits in five innings.

In the first inning, the Oilers put runners on second and third with one out thanks to one of Bennett Oliver’s two doubles on the day. But two grounders ended the threat.

In the second, the Oilers had a runner in scoring position with two outs, but another grounder broke that promise.

In the third, Oliver doubled with one down but again was left stranded.

In the fourth, with menacing skies closing in, Blake Wilfong led off with a single for the Oilers and was bunted to second by Galusky. After James Fowlkes flew out, Jordan Washam went into an 0-2 hole and fouled off three pitches before singling to right field.

Griffin sent Wilfong home, but Vazquez’s throw to Cameron Comer was good enough to foil early victory plans.

Had Wilfong scored, the Oilers could have shut the Pilots down in the fifth and secured the win.

“I was well aware of it,” Griffin said of the impending showers. “It’s why I sent him, and it’s why I bunted him.”

As it turned out, the only players to cross home plate safely were Brian Ruhm of the Oilers and Brett Brown of the Pilots — and even that’s a highly debatable point.

Both delighted their teams and the few remaining fans by stripping to just their compression shorts and taking muddy, head-first slides across the plate once the game had been called.

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