Sticking with it
San Diego had a two-man pitching rotation going through the first five games with Jeff Neptune starting three games, Lawrence Chew starting the other two.
“We went with the two-man rotation because of how the tournament laid out for us,” manager Junior Taele said. “It worked for us, so why break it? We had some pitchers in the bullpen who could still go for us or extend it a little longer.”
But in the quarterfinals Thursday night when San Diego lost 9-2 to the Kenai Peninsula (Alaska) Oilers, San Diego’s pitching struggled.
Kevin Ryan, who had thrown 3Ð innings coming in, started the game. He lasted into the fifth inning, giving up six hits and five runs, including an RBI apiece to Tanner Rust and Mike Miller in the first two innings.
When Ryan was taken out after walking two and giving up two hits in the fifth, San Diego tried five other pitchers. During the eighth and ninth innings, San Diego walked three and hit three batters.
Unwanted day off
Kenai shortstop Mike Miller didn’t want to have Wednesday off. A day off Wednesday meant the Oilers had lost on Tuesday to the Santa Barbara (Calif.) Foresters.
But it did give the Oilers a chance to regroup for the quarterfinals.
“We got back to swinging the bats better today, a little more timely,” Miller said. “Overall, it was a good thing we had a day off.”
And coach Dennis Machado liked what he saw.
“It was important for us to come out and take some quality at-bats and take some good swings and get some runs up on the board early,” he said. “From that standpoint it was good to see them come out and get some runs early and keep at the game and their approach. What I wanted to see was them respond from our last game to today.”
Kenai not only started well, it finished well.
Holding a 5-1 lead heading into the eighth, Miller, who was hitless in his first four at-bats, hit a three-run homer to left field.
“I had a few bad at-bats before,” said Miller of his first homer of the World Series. “He fell behind and I was looking to change my fortunes. I was frustrated beforehand. Coach came up to me before that at-bat _ ‘you put in the work, now it’s time to let your body take over.’ I didn’t’ think about anything. I let my swing take over.”
Kenai starter Jordan Mills went 4Ð innings, giving up three hits and one earned run while striking out three. It was a solid performance; just what the Oilers needed. “Overall, he was just being aggressive and pitching to contact, just being really aggressive with the fastball and changeup and using the slider when he needed to,” Machado said.
Awards handed out on Thursday night included the following: Outstanding local player: Valley Center Diamond Dawgs’ Tyler Coughenour Most spectacular play: Derek Jennings, Seattle Studs. Jennings, a shortstop, made a diving catch down the third-base line against the Kansas Monarchs. Leading prospect to the majors: Mitch Mormann, a right-handed pitcher for the Santa Barbara (Calif.) Foresters Scout of the year: Chris Wimmer Umpire of the year: Greg Mudd.
Liberal is the top pitching team of the NBC with a 1.15 team ERA over five games. The Bee Jays, who were eliminated on Wednesday, gave up five earned runs, struck out 37 and walked 13 while going 3-2. But they gave up 5 unearned runs, which played a huge part in sending Liberal home. . . . Heading into the quarterfinals, no player had more than one home run.