The Oilers travelled down to Edinburgh on Sunday for their first road trip of the year to take on the Cannons in a double-header. Bolstered by their opening day win, the Oilers looked to take both games, a feat they were unable to accomplish last season. The Cannons looked to bounce back from their opening day loss, this time with key players present that they missed in Glasgow. Veteran Roger Baugh started on the mound for the Cannons and would match up against the Oilers’ perennial ace Stephen Evans.
The Oilers struck first in the opening inning; Evans started the scoring with an RBI groundout followed by an RBI single from Francesco di Nicola. Newcomer Abraham Izazaga then doubled to put runners on 2nd and 3rd but Baugh managed to stop the damage by striking out the next batter. In the bottom of the inning Evans started well on the mound but was hindered by some uncharacteristic errors from the Oilers’ fielders that put runners at second and third with two outs. Ren Quantrill then doubled to tie the score at two, setting the tone for what would be a competitive game.
The Oilers were not discouraged and kept up the scoring in the second inning with Miles Peterson and Federico Gambedotti both driving in runs to bring the score to 4-2 Oilers. Both starting pitchers then settled down and pitched well until the top of the 4th, where the Oilers’ bats got to work again; all nine batters contributed to drive in six in the inning, highlighted by another big double from Di Nicola that drove in two.
With the 2-hour time limit quickly expiring going into the bottom of the 4th, the Oilers’ 10-2 lead looked safe. However, the Cannons did not give up, and managed to fight their way back to 10-5, powered by RBI singles from Quantrill and Rocky Siu. Evans, now approaching 100 pitches, needed an out to kill the rally and managed to induce a groundout to end game 1 after just four innings. Both pitchers can nonetheless say they pitched a complete game.
The Cannons sent out Kevin Zapata to make his Baseball Scotland debut on the mound in game 2, while the Oilers turned to Sophomore Lass Kobani for his first start of the year. Once again, the Oilers threatened early, getting runners to second and third with two outs, but Zapata was able to induce a groundout to preserve a scoreless first. The Oilers were looking to play a cleaner game defensively, but their fielding woes continued as the Cannons’ hitters consistently put the ball in play and forced the Oilers to make mistakes, culminating in a 2-0 lead for the Cannons at the end of 1.
Zapata continued to pitch well into the second, confusing the Oilers’ hitters with a wide array of pitches, and with the only hard-hit ball of the inning an RBI single from Federico Gambedotti. Oilers’ pitcher Lass Kobani then began to find his rhythm, retiring the next three hitters in order and setting up the Oilers to take the lead in the top of the third; the Oilers’ four and five hitters David Johnson and Vincente Antonelli both drove in runs to give the Oilers a 4-2 lead.
Kobani continued to pitch well and strike out batters until a hamstring injury gave him trouble in the bottom of the fourth and the Cannons began to string hits together. Nils Johansen and Tony Perez would both drive in runs tying the game at 4 with two outs and the go-ahead run on second. Oilers’ manager Evans then decided to make the call to the bullpen and brought in the new kid Federico Gambedotti to shut the door. Gambedotti would do just that and set up the Oilers to take the lead in the bottom of the inning.
Evans, now in the game for Kobani, would get things started with an RBI single, but would eventually be thrown out trying to score from second on a single by Cannons first baseman Ruari Dunn. The Oilers could not afford to squander too many chances against Zapata and it was with that in mind that pinch-runner Miles Peterson attempted a reckless steal of home, originally being called out, but then safe after it became apparent that the ball had dropped from the catcher’s glove during the collision at the plate. With the game still very much in the balance at 6-4, the Oilers needed one big hit to tilt things their way. Alan Clark and David Johnson would answer their call and drive in another 4 runs, with the score at the end of the inning 11-4 Oilers.
With two hours nearly up, the Oilers were wary after the Cannons’ game 1 comeback, and sent Gambedotti back out to close out the game. The young Italian then delivered by setting the next three hitters down in order, to finish what was a competitive day of baseball in favour of the Oilers.
This double header was a historic first for the Oilers, as it was the first time in program history that the team won back-to-back games. The Oilers hope to build on this early success and continue their winning ways.
Edinburgh Cannons @ Edinburgh Diamond Devils 6 May
Granite City Oilers @ Glasgow Galaxy (Double Header) 13 May