Owen McElfatrick of the Peninsula Oilers bunts for a base hit against the Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks on Thursday, July 27, 2023, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Owen McElfatrick of the Peninsula Oilers bunts for a base hit against the Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks on Thursday, July 27, 2023, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Thursday: Oilers top Chinooks, move closer to playoffs berth

The Peninsula Oilers defeated the Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks 5-4 on Thursday in Alaska Baseball League play at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai.

The Oilers improved to 5-1 in the season series against the Chinooks and moved one step closer to a spot in the Top of the World Series playoffs.

The top four teams in the ABL regular season go to the playoffs.

The Mat-Su Miners lead the league at 21-15, while the Anchorage Glacier Pilots are a game back at 20-16 and the Anchorage Bucs are 1.5 games back at 20-17.

The Oilers, at 16-19, are 4.5 games back, while the Chinooks, at 13-23, are eight games back.

The Oilers and Chinooks, at this point, each have three games remaining on the schedule in the regular season. The teams play each other Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. All games are at Seymour Park.

The two squads also have a rainout from earlier in the season to play, but as of Thursday night the game had not been rescheduled.

The Chinooks would have to win all four games against the Oilers to blow past Peninsula and into the playoffs.

Oilers head coach Larry McCann said the team continues to win despite being short-handed.

“We’re down to like 10 or 11 position players and eight pitchers,” he said. “We’re having to piece this together, but we’ve been getting good outings.

“It’s late in the season and these kids have thrown enough that they’ve kind of figured it out a bit. We’re playing well.”

The Oilers were able to pick up the victory Thursday thanks to the pitching of Ty Correa and Sam Silversmith, and some strong hitting in the second half of the game.

Correa got the start and gave up a run on six hits in five innings, walking one and striking out five.

The Chinooks were able to hit the ball hard on the ground to enough gaps, and be patient enough, to get the ABL’s ERA leader out of the game after the fifth inning.

“Ty was really good,” McCann said. “He still has little struggles with his command.

“In most normal circumstances, we probably would have wanted to get another inning out of him. We got to pitch counts, and we don’t want to get anybody hurt.”

Correa left the game with the score at 1-all after Owen McElfatrick scored on a grounder by Michael Elko, who was 2 for 4, in the fourth inning.

Sam Silversmith came on in relief for the Oilers and erased any thoughts of the early departure by Correa with four solid innings.

He gave up three unearned runs on four hits while walking one and striking out eight.

The Oilers went down 3-1 in the sixth, but the Oilers answered when Nick Costello, who was 3 for 4, doubled with one out and scored on a single by Leighton Helfrick.

Helfrick would eventually score when Ty Thomas scorched a line drive past the third baseman.

The Chinooks went up 4-3 in the seventh, but again the Oilers answered. William Grimm led off with a double and eventually scored on a double-play grounder by Theo Forshey.

Elko started the winning rally in the eighth with a bloop single to left. The Oilers put on a hit and run, and Thomas swung and missed at a ball low and away.

The ball eluded catcher Blake Wilhoite and let Elko go to third.

“What we try to do is create a little havoc on the base paths,” McCann said. “The guy ran and the catcher came up and probably peeked, or whatever, and then the guy swinging was another distraction.”

With the infield in, Thomas hit a sharp grounder to third baseman Ryan Mathiesen. Just the slightest bobble by Mathiesen meant Elko was able to slide home safely.

In the ninth, Wilhoite walked to lead off the inning and reached second on a wild pitch with no outs. Silversmith, of Mt. San Antonio Community College in California, was able to strike out the side to earn the win.

“That’s what I’ve seen from him at school,” McCann said of Silversmith. “I tell you, the kids get up here, it’s a different atmosphere and they need to settle in. I think he’s settled in.”

Silversmith gave up nine earned runs in his first three appearances with the Oilers, and has given up just five earned runs in seven appearances since then.

“It feels good to be at the middle ground instead of the highs and lows and stuff like that,” Silversmith said. “I’m at a good place with pitching right now.”

The righty said he has had to adjust to the better hitters in the ABL.

“I feel like if I leave my stuff over the middle, it gets hit,” he said. “Leaving stuff of the plate in important counts has been really huge for me.”

Michael Kelly was 3 for 5 for the Chinooks, while Ty Beck was 2 for 4 and Ryan Callahan was 2 for 5.

Peninsula Oilers shortstop Michael Elko catches Blake Wilhoite of the Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks trying to steal Thursday, July 27, 2023, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Peninsula Oilers shortstop Michael Elko catches Blake Wilhoite of the Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks trying to steal Thursday, July 27, 2023, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Peninsula Oilers pitcher Sam Silversmith delivers to the Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks on Thursday, July 27, 2023, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Peninsula Oilers pitcher Sam Silversmith delivers to the Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks on Thursday, July 27, 2023, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

More in Sports

Head coach Taylor Shaw (center) talks to the Kenai River Brown Bears during a timeout at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, March 23, 2024. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Season review: Brown Bears hope to build on solid finish to season

It’s not easy to finish a season in last place in a division, yet have plenty of reasons for optimism for the next season

tease
Homer snow shuffles sports schedule

The Mariners were supposed to host Kenai Central in Thursday

A pair of Trumpeter Swans break through the thin ice in search of emergent vegetation at the Kenai River Flats with Mt. Redoubt in the background. (Photo courtesy T. Eskelin/USFWS)
Refuge Notebook: Has spring sprung?

I have always found the arrival of spring to be championed by the first sightings of geese at the Kenai and Kasilof Flats

tease
Peninsula Piranhas win South Central Area Championships

The Peninsula Piranhas won the South Central Area Championships in Homer on… Continue reading

Lily Langham of Kenai Central High School and Brooklyn Larsen, Rylie Thompson and Ava Fabian of Soldotna High School, stand for a photo with their medals after competing in the USA Hockey National Championships as part of the Alaska All Stars 19U Division 2A hockey team. (photo provided)
Local skaters help Alaska All Stars to semis of national tourney

Four central Kenai Peninsula skaters were on the Alaska All Stars 19U… Continue reading

tease
SoHi girls win distance medley relay at Big C Relays

A number of Kenai Peninsula athletes nabbed top-eight finishes at the Russ… Continue reading

tease
Saturday: Brown Bears finish season with comeback victory in Fairbanks

The Kenai River Brown Bears finished their season with a 4-3 victory… Continue reading

tease
Friday: Ice Dogs hold off Brown Bears

The Kenai River Brown Bears dropped a 2-1 decision to the Fairbanks… Continue reading

Blackwater Railroad Company and Silas Jones (front left) play at the 30th annual Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament on Saturday, March 23, 2024 at the Deep Water Dock on the Spit in Homer, Alaska. (Delcenia Cosman/Homer News)
Out of the Office: Good gathering, good vibes

It’s been a while since I’ve attended a good-old-fashioned social event —… Continue reading

Most Read