The clutch hitting that helped the Peninsula Oilers roll through their first three games at the National Baseball Congress World Series went missing Tuesday night.
So did the Oilers' unbeaten status.
Handcuffed by Santa Barbara Foresters pitchers, the Oilers struck out 16 times, struggled with runners in scoring position and fell 6-4 at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium in Wichita, Kan.
The loss dropped the Alaska Baseball League champions into the loser's bracket in the 32-team, double-elimination tournament that crowns the champion of amateur summer baseball. Eight teams remain in the tournament the Oilers have won three times -- in 1994, 1993 and 1997.
Peninsula, which outscored opponents 30-5 in its first three games, went just 3 of 16 with runners in scoring position, although it did score all four of its runs in those situations. The Oilers had struck out just 12 times in their first three games.
The Oilers have today off before playing the Valley City (Kan.) Diamond Dawgs on Thursday. No game time has yet been set.
Foresters relievers Spenser Messmore and Codey Morehouse were brutal on the Oilers, who didn't make much contact once the game resumed following a weather delay of nearly 90 minutes prompted by rain and lightning after five innings.
Messmore struck out four Oilers in the sixth and seventh innings, and Morehouse registered all six outs in the eighth and ninth innings by strikeouts. The Oilers struck out 10 times in their last 12 outs.
Santa Barbara, which plays in the California Collegiate League and won the NBC World Series in 2008 and 2006, is one of just two remaining undefeated teams. The other is the San Diego Waves, who also play in the CCL.
Peninsula's loss snapped its overall winning streak at eight games.
Oilers starting pitcher Jon Maciel, who allowed just three hits and one unearned runs in a tournament opening 14-1 five-inning win over the Northwest (Wash.) Honkers, struggled Tuesday. He lasted just 3 2/3 innings, allowing eight hits and four runs.
The run Maciel surrendered in the first inning marked the first time the Oilers trailed in the tournament. They forged a 1-1 tie on Patrick Wisdom's sacrifice fly in the third inning. But Santa Barbara, which rapped 13 hits, used RBI doubles by Derek Legg and Brett Vertigan, and an RBI single by Tyler Pearson to seize a 4-1 lead in the top of the fourth inning.
The Oilers answered with a three-run outburst in the bottom of the inning on Mike Miller's two-run double and Chris Mallory's RBI ground-out.
Yet Oilers hitters were largely overwhelmed by Foresters pitchers after that in a game that finished near 2 a.m. CDT.
Anchorage Daily News