August 7, 2016 - Alaska Baseball League (Alaska) - Mat-Su Miners
PALMER, Alaska - With Game One of the Top of the World Series hanging in the balance, the Mat-Su Miners offense needed a pivotal at-bat to break a late-innings stalemate.
First baseman Jake Scudder stepped to the plate with two outs in the bottom of the eighth and delivered a decisive hit to lead his team to a 3-1 victory over the Peninsula Oilers at Hermon Brothers Field.
"It was a good game," Miners head coach Ben Taylor said. "The Oilers battled and came at us, they are a really good baseball team. Every pitch tonight for both sides was highly contested."
The Miners (26-18 regular season, 2-0 playoffs) struck first in the bottom of the second inning. With the bases loaded, catcher Andy Cosgrove grounded out to first baseman Jonathan Washam to plate Jake Scudder, giving Mat-Su an early lead.
The Oilers (24-20 regular season, 1-1 playoffs) answered back with a sacrifice fly in the top of the fifth inning. Peninsula shortstop Trey Dawson lifted the first pitch of his at-bat to right field to score catcher Jared Huber and knot the game at 1-1.
The Oilers threatened to score in the top of the sixth, loading the bases against Mat-Su starter Stephen Kolek. Reliever Mick Vorhof then took the mound and forced a groundout double play to escape the inning.
"That was huge, it was the big momentum change in the game," Kolek said. "He was able to come in and do his job to change the game."
Kolek finished with one run and four hits in 5.1 innings on the mound, while Vorhof held the Oilers to one hit in 2.2 innings of work.
"I felt like I had a lot of life and movement to my fastball today," Kolek said. "I was trying to live off my fastball for the most part and mix it up every now and then. I just tried to stay in the strike zone."
Peninsula starter Justin Montgomery provided the Oilers with a strong performance in his 13th Alaska Baseball League appearance. The Cal Baptist right-hander surrendered two runs on six hits while recording four strikeouts.
"We really didn't talk about a gameplan, we've seen him about four or five times this season," Taylor said. "He's had our number before. That kid is really good. It was just one of those things where there wasn't much to talk about, we just had to go out and swing at the right pitches."
Mat-Su second baseman Levi Jordan reached base in the top of the eighth on an error by Peninsula third baseman Alex Seifert. Rightfielder Garrison Schwartz advanced Jordan into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt in the following at-bat.
With two outs, Miners first baseman Jake Scudder drove a 1-0 changeup up the middle against Montgomery to score Jordan and give Mat-Su the go-ahead run.
"Going into the at-bat I wasn't expecting too much to hit with two outs," Scudder said. "I was sitting off-speed and trying to get something over the plate that I could put up the middle. I saw a changeup and was able to capitalize."
Shortstop Josh Bissonette followed with an RBI single off of reliever Andrew Bash to stretch the lead to 3-1.
Miners closer Jordan Floyd entered in the ninth inning and retired the side in three consecutive at-bats to clinch the victory.
Scudder led the Mat-Su offense with three hits, while Jordan and Bissonette each added a hit.
The Peninsula offense was boosted with a 2 for 3 performance from Seifert. Dawson added the lone RBI for the Oilers.
The two teams meet again at 1 p.m. on Sunday afternoon at Hermon Brothers Field. If the series is tied at 1-1, a third playoff game will take place approximately 40 minutes after the conclusion of Sunday's game.
"It's just business as usual," Scudder said. "We're going to wake up and do the same thing we usually do. We're going to get in a workout, head to the clubhouse and watch some Family Feud. We might cherish this a bit more because this will be the last time we step on the field together. I think it'll be high intensity but a lot of fun."