OLEAN, NY – Coming off their first win of the season Sunday night over the Rochester Ridgemen, the Oilers returned home for their annual Kids Day event at Bradner Stadium.
With a start time of 10:30 a.m. against the Genesee Rapids, schools in Olean and Portville took students out of the classroom for a day to root on the home team, packing the stands with about 1,900 rollicking kids cheering for their favorite Oiler players.
Despite the large, enthusiastic crowd, the team lost to the Rapids, 6-5.
Bradley Walker (Pennsylvania College of Technology) took the mound for the Oilers, but never found a good rhythm throughout the early morning start. Walker gave up three runs in the first four innings, and his team’s offense was nearly nonexistent until Chris Wastchak doubled in the bottom half of the fourth and was driven in by St. Bonaventure’s Jake Miknis.
The Oilers offense stayed hot in the fifth when a Jacob Burlingame’s double drove in two runners who had reached base on walks, giving the team a 5-4 lead.
Walker left the game after 6 2/3 innings, having given up four earned runs on nine hits and three walks, while striking out eight batters. Sean Harris (St. John Fisher), a hometown kid from Olean, was called on for relief, but gave up two unearned runs in the eighth, handing the lead back to the Rapids.
Neither team would score in the ninth, giving the Rapids the win over the Oilers, who are now 1-3 on the year.
“It’s a tough turn right now for this team,” said Head Coach Jay Weitzel. “This team isn’t going to have physical mix-ups. These are good baseball players. They’re all talented, but this team is all going to depend on how it handles their mental side of the game.”
Weitzel reiterated that this year’s Oilers team should not be compared to last year’s team. A better comparison would be with the 2015 Oilers’ team that was “a couple games away from not even making the playoffs,” he said.
“That team won the title too, did they not?” said Weitzel. “I have no worries about these guys. They’re all good baseball players. I’ve coached a lot of them. We will be fine.”
Tuesday's game against the Wellsville Nitros has been postponed. The team's next game will be Thursday against the Sherrill Silversmiths in Sherrill.