For a second straight night, the Peninsula Oilers struggled to find home plate as they lost 4-1 Thursday to the Chugiak/Eagle River Chinooks at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Alaska Baseball League play.
In a replay of Wednesday’s home opener, the Peninsula bats faced tough times getting baserunners home, leaving 10 men on base for the second night in a row against a team that the Oilers crushed 11-4 just three days prior. The Oilers are 2-5 in the league, while the Chinooks are 3-4.
Oilers head coach Kyle Brown said he wanted to see better plate approaches in the coming days. Thursday’s game was the second in a row the Oilers failed to score in the first seven innings.
“Scoring early, it just changes the dynamic of the game,” Brown said. “That pitcher is now uncomfortable coming out for the second inning, and getting to the bullpen (early) is huge.”
The Oilers came out ready, loading the bases with one out in the bottom of the first, but Damon Keith struck out and Jaden Fein grounded out to end the frame and keep it scoreless.
“They were on the ropes, it was the same thing in the first inning, you’ve got to capitalize on that,” Brown said. “That pitcher was trying to find his groove, he didn’t have a groove and he basically said, ‘Hey here’s bases loaded with one out’, and we didn’t capitalize on that mistakes. It’s unfortunate that right now we’re going through that funk.”
Six Oilers had base hits, all singles from Camden Vasquez, Damon Keith, Jonathan Villa, Skyler Messinger and pinch hitters Bobby Goodloe and Calvin Farris. Goodloe’s two-out, pinch-hit single in the bottom of the eighth would ultimately be the only Oilers run scored.
Michael Barker escaped the early jam in the first inning to pitch five scoreless frames for the Chinooks, scattering four hits and walking three with two strikeouts. The final four innings were shared by relievers Tyler O’Clair, Tyler Wynkoop, Corbin Barker and Justin Fox, with each guy giving up no earned runs.
Brown said 24 of the Oilers’ 27 outs came against the fastball, with the other three on offspeed pitches.
“They fed us fastballs today, they pounded us away,” Brown said. “Like I said, we just didn’t execute. It comes down to that, plain and simple.”
Jake Fenn went four innings in starting for the Oilers, giving up three runs on four hits and two walks, while whiffing three. Jacob Reed and Steven Ordorica finished the game, with Reed giving up a run on two hits in two innings, and Ordorica pitching two scoreless innings.
The loss also left the Oilers 1-2 against the Chinooks this year, with the road team winning all three games. The Oilers spanked Chugiak 11-4 Monday at Lee Jordan Field, but have lost consecutive games to start the team’s first home stand of the summer.
Chugiak head coach Jon Groth said players coming up to Alaska in the opening week or two of the season created a haphazard start to the season with the coaching staff figuring out where and how to use arms.
“This is our second time through our rotation now,” Groth said. “That first week, we were kind of ‘Johnny Wholestaffing’ it, getting guys an inning here, inning there, getting their feet wet. We’re kind of in our rotation now.”
The Chinooks took the first lead in the second inning on a Jake Collins RBI single after Ethan English led off with a double.
Chugiak scored twice more in the top of the fourth when Haden Keller advanced to third on a two-base error pickoff attempt that got away from first baseman Jaden Fein. Keller scored on an RBI groundout by English, and J. Paul Fullerton added a third run on a towering RBI double to center field. Keller finished 2 for 4.
Brandon Cody led off the fifth with a triple to the right-center gap and Keller scored him on an RBI bloop single for a 4-0 lead.
The Oilers loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the fifth, but Drew Thorpe grounded out to end it.
The Oilers finally got on the board in the bottom of the eighth after a leadoff two-base error for Servin turned into a run by a two-out, pinch-hit RBI single by Bobby Goodloe.
The Oilers went quietly in the ninth with only a one-out single from pinch-hitter Calvin Farris to show for it.