For a second straight night, the Peninsula Oilers and Mat-Su Miners found themselves in a pitchers duel.
And, for a second straight night, the three-time defending Alaska Baseball League champion Miners walked away with a victory, this time on a game-ending single by Aaron Walters to win 3-2, extending Mat-Su’s win streak to six games.
The win for the Miners clinched the current four-game series with the Oilers with a game left to play, tonight at 7 p.m. at Hermon Brothers Field in Palmer. The ABL-leading Miners (9-5) took a half-game lead over the Anchorage Bucs (8-5) in the standings, while the Oilers (5-9) dropped four games behind with their third straight loss.
The Miners loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth with no outs, after an error by centerfielder Keith on a dropped fly put the leadoff runner on second and Tyler Porter and Erik Webb both drew walks to juice the bases.
Two batters later, Walters drove a single into the outfield to end the game.
The finish overshadowed great outings by both starting pitchers. For the Miners, Kyler Bush struck out eight in six innings of work, giving up two runs on three hits and one walk, and for the Oilers, Jake Fenn gave up just two hits in five frames, allowing two runs and four walks with two strikeouts.
Mat-Su’s Grant Sloan picked up the win for the Miners by pitching the top of the ninth scoreless with one hit and one strikeout. Jack White had two scoreless innings in between with one hit and one strikeout.
For Peninsula, Drew Thorpe was the hard-luck loser, giving up the winning run after 2 1/3 innings of relief. Thorpe was tagged with only two hits and two walks with one strikeout. Heath Olive worked a scoreless inning of relief for the Oilers with two hits and one walk.
Like Wednesday, the two sides matched wits with scoreless innings for a fast-paced game, and it took until the bottom of the fourth for runs to score, as the Miners loaded the bases with one out and Drew Williamson came through with an RBI single for a 1-0 lead. Kody Huff added a sac fly to center for a 2-0 Mat-Su edge.
The Oilers answered with two runs to tie it in the sixth, relying on the speed of Kenai product Paul Steffensen to score. Steffensen got on base with a grounder and stole two more to reach third, and Camden Vasquez brought him in on an RBI single to halve the lead. Damon Keith then tied it up on an RBI double.
The Miners loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, but a Josh Bristyan grounder that went to second baseman Victor Carlino ended up ending the inning on a fortuitous play, as Miners baserunner Drew Williamson collided with Carlino on the basepaths, gaining an obstruction call to end it.
The Miners put a runner on third with one out in the seventh inning after a double by Webb, but couldn’t bring Webb home as Thorpe induced a pop-out and ground-out to end the threat.
The Oilers will wrap up their four-game series with the Miners tonight at 7 p.m., then start a three-game series with the Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks Saturday at 7 p.m.