Peninsula Oilers starting pitchers have barely permitted three opponents a sniff, and now the Alaska Baseball League champions can smell a national championship.
Ben Griset's masterful six innings and the Oilers' seven-run outburst in the second inning spearheaded Sunday night's 9-1 victory over the Seattle Studs in seven innings at the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kan.
The Oilers (3-0) are one of just four unbeaten clubs remaining in the double-elimination tournament, which began with 32 teams and is down to the final 12, eight of which have already absorbed a loss. The NBC World Series crowns the champion of amateur summer baseball.
Peninsula (34-15) has twice hammered opponents so badly the mercy-rule has been imposed. The Oilers opened the tournament Thursday with a 14-1 win over the Northwest (Wash.) Honkers in five innings and needed just seven innings to dispatch the Studs on Sunday. Friday, they beat the San Diego Force 7-3 in nine innings. Peninsula has outscored its tournament opponents, 30-5.
The Oilers next play Tuesday night -- game time has not yet been announced, but will almost certainly be a featured evening game at either 4:30 p.m. or 7 p.m. ADT -- against the winner of Sunday's late winners' bracket game between the Santa Barbara (Calif.) Foresters and the Topeka (Kan.) Golden Giants.
The Oilers, three-time NBC champs, received their third straight splendid performance from a starter. Griset went six innings and allowed just one run, earned, while scattering five hits.
The three Oilers starters in the tournament -- Jon Maciel pitched the opener and Jordan Mills followed in the second game -- have allowed just one earned run and 11 hits in 17 innings for an earned-run average of 0.53. The three starters have struck out 15 batters.
The Oilers' entire staff has permitted just four earned runs in 21 innings for a 1.71 ERA.
Two late additions to the Oilers roster have proved instrumental for a team that is hitting .364 in the tournament.
Designated hitter Stephen Branca, picked up from the Mat-Su Miners, has merely gone 7 for 12 (.583) in three games, with seven RBIs and five runs scored. He went 2 for 3 Sunday with two runs and two RBIs.
And outfielder Boomer Collins, plucked from the Anchorage Bucs, went 3 for 4 on Sunday with two RBIs and a run scored. In two tournament games, he's 5 for 8 (.625) with two runs scored.
Branca and Collins combined to end Sunday's game with the seventh-inning run that gave the Oilers an eight-run cushion that precipitated the mercy rule.
Second baseman Chris Mallory went 2 for 3 with two runs scored and an RBI on Sunday, and third baseman Patrick Wisdom drove in two runs with his single in Peninsula's seven-run second inning.
The Oilers in that inning benefitted from six walks. Collins delivered an RBI single in the inning, Branca furnished a two-run single and a bases-loaded walk to ABL Player of the Year Mike Miller generated another run.
The Oilers on Sunday turned three double plays. An error by shortstop Miller on a potential double-play ball in the top of the seventh ended Peninsula's streak of 201/3 innings of error-free baseball. Yet second baseman Mallory and Miller turned a double play on the next batter to end the inning.