Kaden Hogan

Mat-Su Miners infielder Kaden Hogan makes the throw from his knees to get the out at first during a 7-3 win over the Anchorage Bucs Friday, June 28, 2019, at Hermon Brothers Field in Palmer.

PALMER — The Mat-Su Miners entered a two-game homestand against Anchorage trailing the Bucs by 3 ½ games in the standings. But after back-to-back wins, the Miners took a chunk out of Anchorage’s advantage.

The Miners beat Anchorage for a second straight night with a 7-3 win over the Bucs at Hermon Brothers Field in Palmer.

“We talk about it as a staff, but at the same time you’ve got to go out and play,” Mat-Su pitching coach Jeff Urlaub said of the standings after the win Saturday. “Obviously we know they are in first place and they’re playing well, so for us to get in the hunt, we’ve got to beat them. We took care of business twice in a row.”

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Brandon Birdsell improved to 2-0 on the mound and helped push Mat-Su to 13-8 in the league standings. Anchorage (15-7) owned a 1 ½ game lead following its loss. The Texas A&M product allowed only one hit over five innings of work, and struck out five.

“Great,” Urlaub said of the outing. “He battled. He threw a lot more pitches than we thought he needed to, but he did his job and kept us in the ball game.”

Birdsell did walk five, but was able to keep Anchorage scoreless through his five innings of work.

“That’s the thing. Control might not always be there, but if we can execute big pitches at the right times to get us out of jams, that’s what helps,” Urlaub said.

Birdsell is now 2-0 with a 2.93 earned run average, and has fanned 20 in 15.1 innings pitched.

“He has really good stuff,” Urlaub said. “It’s a big league arm, definitely a pro body.”

Urlaub said Birdsell hits the 93 to 94 mph range.

The Miners were also able to build an early lead at the plate, scoring twice in three of the first four innings.

“Timely hitting the last two nights, scoring first on them. Jumping out to early leads helps our pitcher settle,” Urlaub said. “The offense has been great. Guys are grinding, finding ways to get on base, score runs.”

Justin Kirby led Mat-Su with two RBI and two runs scored. Aaron Walters added two hits, an RBI and a run scored. Erik Webb also scored twice.

Contact Frontiersman managing editor Jeremiah Bartz at sports@frontiersman.com.

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