July 30, 2016 - Alaska Baseball League (Alaska) - Mat-Su Miners
PALMER, Alaska - With the No. 1 seed still up for grabs in the Alaska Baseball League, the Mat-Su Miners needed a win against the Peninsula Oilers to remain in control of their playoff destiny.
The Miners relied on three hits from Josh Bissonette and three RBIs from rightfielder Cam Montgomery to claim a commanding 12-5 victory against the Oilers in the second matchup of Saturday's doubleheader.
The win gives Mat-Su a 2.5-game lead over Peninsula with three games remaining in the regular season.
"You've got no choice but to bounce back," Miners head coach Ben Taylor said. "You lose a heartbreaker in the first one, but you can't sit there and feel sorry for yourself for 40 minutes. You have to get back out there, strap it on and get after it. That's what these guys have done all summer."
Peninsula catcher Jonathan Washam opened up the scoring for the Oilers (20-18) in the top of the first inning with a single to score centerfielder Darius Hill.
Designated hitter Seth Dewitt then laid down a suicide squeeze with runners on the corners, but the throw from Mat-Su starting pitcher Trent Shelton to the plate was late, giving the Oilers a 2-0 lead. Brody Wofford followed with a sacrifice fly to provide Peninsula with its third run.
The Miners (24-17) responded in the bottom half of the inning when shortstop Josh Bissonette reached home on a wild pitch by Oilers starter Dom Bazzani. Rightfielder Cam Montgomery added a bases-clearing double down the line to give Mat-Su a 4-3 lead.
The Miners tacked on another run in the bottom of the second on an RBI single from Bissonette.
"I was struggling a bit at the plate during my last few games," Bissonette said. "I told myself to just go out there today and have fun without trying to do too much. Luckily I was able to find a few holes out there and the rest is history."
Shelton provided Mat-Su with 2.1 innings on the mound. The Cal Poly left-hander allowed four hits and two walks in his seventh Alaska Baseball League appearance.
Reliever Jordan Frederick entered with the bases loaded in the top of the third and surrendered a two-run single to Peninsula infielder Jeffrey Chapuran to tie the game at 5-5.
Mat-Su first baseman Jake Scudder provided a momentum swing for the Miners with a two-run homer in the bottom of the third to regain the lead.
Centerfielder Scooter Bynum followed with a sacrifice fly, and an RBI single from second baseman Levi Jordan stretched the Mat-Su lead to 9-5.
Infielder Austin Piscotty took the mound for the Oilers in the bottom of the fifth and intentionally walked Bissonette before surrendered a two-run single to leftfielder Garrison Schwartz to give the Miners an 11-5 lead.
"I've never been intentionally walked before, but I knew that Schwartz was going to come up clutch with the bases loaded," Bissonette said. "I had all the confidence in the world in him to do his job. I knew they were making a mistake because he is one of the best hitters on this team."
Mat-Su relief pitcher Mick Vorhof entered in the sixth and closed out the game for the Miners with two hitless innings.
Mat-Su added a final run in the bottom of the sixth when centerfielder Brooks Stotler doubled against reliever Evan Kissinger to score third baseman A.J. Lee to secure the victory.
"The fact of the matter is that this team battles and plays for each other," Taylor said. "This team has become a really tight family. This is a special group of baseball players."