Miners upend 1st-place Oilers, 5-2
PALMER - The Mat-Su Miners really wanted this one.
After spending much of the season series on the losing end, the Miners finally got the best of the Alaska Baseball League-leading Peninsula Oilers.
The Miners used five pitchers, and outfielders Michael Gerlach and Wesley Jones combined for five hits as Mat-Su scored a 5-2 win over the Oilers at Hermon Brothers Field in Palmer on Tuesday.
With the win, the Miners (17-15) also moved into second place in ABL, jumping a half-game ahead of the Anchorage Bucs (17-16), who suffered a 7-6 loss to the Athletes in Action Fire on Tuesday. Mat-Su sits three games behind the first-place Oilers (19-11).
Peninsula hosts AIA at 6 p.m. today at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai.
"A team that's kind of had our number this year, the fact we can take the last one and salvage some self respect feels good," Mat-Su coach Brian Yocke said.
It was just Mat-Su's third win over the Oilers this summer. Entering the game, Peninsula was carrying a 6-2 mark against Mat-Su and had outscored the Miners 41-23.
The shorthanded Miners, who had only six pitchers available Tuesday, used five arms in the win.
David Gibson started and went two innings, Ben Graff pitched another two, Brendan Lobban earned the win after he pitched 2 2/3 and Mark Anderson closed the game in the ninth.
The Miners even got 1 1/3 innings out of Colin Cloud, a Miners veteran who last pitched in the Anchorage Adult League.
"We have six pitchers total. We can't go burn one arm," Yocke said. "We need guys to go cover their shift, and they did a great job."
Gibson, Graff and Lobban had scoreless outings. Cloud allowed a run and two hits, but Yocke was impressed with the Anchorage native, who made his season debut with Mat-Su.
"Colin Cloud did a great job," Yocke said of the right-hander, who threw six innings for the Miners last summer. "We'll definitely be using him as we move forward."
The Miners broke a 1-all tie with three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, Ryan Ford led off the inning with a walk, and after Stephen Branca was hit with a pitch, Jones singled to load the bases.
With the bases loaded, Adam Martin was hit by a pitch and Ford scored to give the Miners the 2-1 lead.
Gerlach blew the game open with a two-run single to left field. Gerlach finished 3 for 4 in the win and drove in three runs. The San Jose State recruit also made a pair of diving catches in right field.
"He plays his butt off," Yocke said of Gerlach.
The Miners took a 1-0 lead in the fourth when Jones scored on a Gerlach single.
The Oilers were able to tie the score in the top of the sixth when Tanner Rust scored on a Greg Anderson single.
The Oilers added another run in the ninth when Troy Channing drove in Chris Mallory with a single.
Mallory, Anderson and Ryan McChesney each collected a team-best two hits for the Oilers.
Jordan Mills was tagged with the loss after allowed four hits and four earned runs over 5 1/3, dropping to 4-1 in the ABL.