The Peninsula Oilers clinched the Alaska Baseball League crown Friday afternoon with a victory that truly was a team effort -- eight of the nine hitters in their lineup either scored at least one run or drove in at least one run, and five guys managed both feats.
The Oilers' 10-4 seven-inning victory over the Athletes in Action Fire in the opener of a doubleheader at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai eliminated the two-time defending league champion Mat-Su Miners. The Miners were the only other team that had a shot, albeit slim, at the pennant.
The ABL title is the Oilers' first since 2006.
Peninsula next week is headed to the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kan., where they have won three titles -- in 1994, 1993 and 1977 -- and been to the championship game five times.
Alaska teams have won 16 NBC crowns since 1969 -- the Fairbanks Goldpanners own a record six titles, the Anchorage Glacier Pilots have won five and the Mat-Su Miners have captured two.
Leadoff hitter Mike Miller sparked the Oilers by going 3 for 4, stealing two bases, scoring three runs and driving in one run. He ignited Peninsula's four-run first inning off AIA starter Taylor Aikenhead by leading off with a single and stealing second. With the bases loaded, Tanner Rust reached on an error that allowed two runs to score. Ryan McChesney followed with an RBI double and Manny Ocosta delivered an RBI infield single.
AIA battled back with a four-run fourth inning that forged a 4-4 tie. Marshall McDonald lashed a two-run double, Ryan Miller drove in a run with a ground-out and Trey Martin plated a run with an infield single.
But the Oilers moved ahead again, 6-4, in the bottom of the fourth on Miller's RBI triple and Troy Channing's sacrifice fly. Chris Mallory, Patrick Wisdom, Channing and Acosta all furnished RBI singles in Peninsula's four-run sixth inning.
Oilers reliever Brandon Kizer (2-0) went 1 1/3 scoreless innings to earn the win. Kizer, who has made 14 appearances this summer, lowered his earned-run average to 0.64.
In the nightcap in Kenai, Miller blasted a grand slam for his first home run of the summer and the Oilers completed the doubleheader sweep with a 6-5 victory in seven innings.
At Hermon Brothers Field in Palmer, Mat-Su's Mark Anderson (5-1) scattered seven singles and pitched a complete-game gem that earned the Miners a 5-0 victory over the Anchorage Bucs.
Anderson, who lowered his ERA to 1.58, threw 125 pitches. He walked two and struck out one.
Dominick Francia drove in the two runs for the Miners, and Stephen Branca, Tim Zier and Michael Gerlach each generated an RBI.
Bucs starter Ty Griffith (1-1) absorbed the loss.