The Mat-Su Miners forced a series split at the very least with the Peninsula Oilers with a 6-3 win Wednesday night at Hermon Brothers Field in Palmer.
In the second contest of a four-game road series with the defending ABL champs, the Oilers must win the next two to forge a split, starting tonight at 7 p.m.
The win on Wednesday rocketed the Miners to the top of the Alaska Baseball League at 8-5 overall, tied with the Anchorage Bucs (8-5), while the Oilers fell to 5-8, three games behind the new leaders.
The two sides raced through the first four innings in rapid fashion as the two starting pitchers staged a scoreless duel.
Oilers starter Connor McCord of Gilbert, Arizona, was pulled with two outs in the fifth after striking out eight in a hot start. McCord gave up four runs — all unearned after an infield throwing error — on three hits and a walk over 4 2/3 frames.
Opposite McCord was Miners starter Randy Abshier, who pitched six scoreless innings with just one base hit and three walks, while whiffing six. Abshier spun a no-hitter into the sixth inning, when the Oilers’ Calvin Farris broke it up with a one-out single. Farris ended 2 for 4 with a run scored to lead the Oilers.
Eric Reardon and Robbie Knowles finished out the game in relief for the Oilers. Reardon retired one batter and Knowles gave up two runs in three innings of work, scattering two hits and two walks with two strikeouts.
Mat-Su outfielder Erik Webb, the league leader in RBI’s, notched three more runs batted in with a 3-for-4 day. Anthony Notaro had the Miners’ only other hits, going 2 for 4 with two runs.
After 4 1/2 sparkling innings by both teams, Mat-Su finally broke the shutout in the bottom of the fifth with four runs. Tyler Porter chopped a slow roller to first that helped him reach on error, plating two runs in the process. The throw home from Peninsula first baseman Giancarlo Servin got away and allowed the Miners to take the 2-0 lead. Later, a two-run bloop single by Webb helped to push the lead to 4-0.
The Oilers got two runs back in the top of the seventh with a two-run single from Travis Bohall, cutting the gap to 4-2.
The Miners continued to pressure the Oilers in the bottom of the seventh with a leadoff homer by Anthony Notaro off Knowles, followed by a two-out RBI single by Webb that pushed the lead to 6-2.
A Carlino RBI single in the top of the eighth cut the lead back to 6-3 but that would be all the Oilers could muster.