FAIRBANKS—Alaska Goldpanners relief pitcher Carl Robinson loves pressure. The passion comes from his days as a soccer goalkeeper while he grew up in Placentia, Calif.
The passion came in handy Tuesday night at Growden Memorial Park, where Robinson secured a 6-4 victory over the Peninsula Oilers in the seven-inning opener of a doubleheader that’s part of a three-day, four-game Alaska Baseball League homestand for the Goldpanners.
Outfielders Brady Renner and Matt Nadolski contributed two RBI each for the fourth-place Goldpanners, who later lost 5-1 in the second game, also seven innings.
The Goldpanners (15-18 ABL, 22-20 overall) and the second-place Oilers (19-16, 22-19) end the series with a nine-inning game at 7 tonight.
Robinson, who followed winning starter Patrick McGrath, ended Peninsula’s hopes of a comeback in the top of the seventh inning of Tuesday’s opener.
Robinson faced a full count against Garrett Stubbs with two outs and bases loaded. Josh Miller had made it 6-4 earlier in the seventh with an RBI single, his game-high third hit for the second-place Oilers.
It was a situation treasured by Robinson, a left-handed sophomore from California’s Cypress College.
“I’m a big guy for pressure,’’ he said after the game. “I used to play soccer and I was always goalie, so I always had the pressure on me.”
Robinson’s passion was evident in the high fastball he delivered for the game-ending strikeout of Stubbs, who finished 2 for 3 with an RBI.
The pitch, which earned Robinson his fourth save, wasn’t what the Second-Team All-ABL selection planned.
“I had thrown 90 percent of the time fastballs,’’ Robinson said. “I was thinking ‘You know what? I might as well try a slider but I’ll go with the catcher (Kurt Schlangen) on this one. Hopefully, he swings and misses,’ ... and he did.”
It was Robinson’s fourth striketout in 1 2/3 innings, which he also allowed a run, walked two and gave up two of the Oilers’ 10 hits.
McGrath raised his record to 3-3 after pitching 5 1/3 innings. The right-hander struck out seven while allowing three runs with two earned and giving up eight hits and four walks.
The Goldpanners supported McGrath with a 5-0 lead until the Oilers scored three times in the top of the sixth.
“He was throwing good today,” Nadolski said. “He was throwing strikes, getting ahead in the count and getting people out. That helps a lot.”
Particularly for a Goldpanners squad that wanted to continue the momentum of a 15-3 win in Monday’s nine-inning series opener.
“It’s the last week of being up here in Fairbanks. So we’re just playing for fun and playing for the fans,’’ Nadolski said.
Nadolski had a pair of timely hits, starting in the bottom of the second with a two-out double against Oilers left-handed starter Jordan Mills, driving in Joey Epperson, who scored a game-high three runs while hitting 1 for 1 and walking twice.
Nadolski’s two-out RBI single triggered a four-run burst in the bottom of the fourth. Chad Carroll brought home Epperson on a bases-loaded walk, replacing Mills, also 3-3, with Louis Cohen. Renner, with his only hit in three at-bats, lined a two-run single up the middle of the field against the Oilers reliever.
Schlangen contributed an RBI sacrifice bunt in the bottom of the sixth.
Josh Delph, after leading off the top of the sixth, ignited the Oilers’ three-run sixth by scoring on McGrath’s bases-loaded wild pitch to Garrett Stubbs, who later rolled an RBI single under first baseman Epperson’s glove.
Jeff Yamaguchi’s, whose walk loaded the bases, scored from third on Schlangen’s throwing error on a pickoff attempt of Stubbs at second base.
The Oilers, who had lost five out of six games before the doubleheader, were reminded by head coach John Stevens that it was possible to score a lot runs at Growden, which has an artificial turf infield.
“It seems to be a field where a lot of things can happen very quickly,’’ Stevens said. “We just said relax and let’s get some guys on base and see what happens.”
Trent Richardson’s leadoff home run in the top of the third inning set the stage for Peninsula’s first win of the series.
Nate Ring batted 2 for 4 and scored a run, and Michael Coates earned the win, scattering two hits, allowing three walks and a run and striking out four in five innings.
Nadolski led off the Goldpanners’ half of the fifth inning with his second home run in as many days.
Matt Milke took the loss while going the distance. He gave up eight hits and two walks while striking out six.
Renner and Politi had the Goldpanners’ other hits.
Contact staff writer Danny Martin at 459-7586.