Wichita — Strange the thoughts that cross your mind in times of crisis.
Take, for example, what occurred to Maupintour right fielder Ron Oelschlager on Friday afternoon as he watched the Kenai, Alaska, Oilers score eight runs before their first out.
"About three of those guys play for Arizona," said Oelschlager, a freshman all-American for the Wildcats last season. "I was kind of impressed with how they were hitting."
Needless to say, that first inning made a big impression on the final score. Kenai went on to eliminate the Travellers from the NBC World Series with a 17-9, run-rule shortened win at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
THE TRAVELLERS finished the 33-team semi-pro national tournament with a 4-2 record, good for either a tie for fourth or fifth, depending on the result of today's Anchorage-Maitland, Fla., quarterfinal.
They finished the season 32-4.
"Fifth is a real accomplishment," Maupintour coach Walt Houk said. "We thought we could win it, and I still think we could. But it was a good year for us. We only lost four games this year, and we're on a budget that isn't anything like the teams we're playing."
The Oilers' first inning was unlike anything Maupintour had seen. Their first three batters scored their first run on an infield hit, a perfect hit-and-run and a bloop single to left.
"After that happened, I tried to go to other pitches," said Lawrence starter David Meyer. "But my slider was flat, and I didn't have anything to go on. I didn't have any luck going my way, and I never seemed to turn it around. It was just a horrible night."
FOUR SINGLES and a grand slam later, Meyer was gone.
"That was a freak accident," Oelschlager said of the fatal first. "They're good hitters, but that's unreal. That's when you know you've run into somebody that's hot and you're in trouble."
The Travellers nearly dug themselves out of trouble twice. They cut Kenai's lead to three runs, 8-5, in the second, and closed to within two, 8-6, on Mark Moore's homer in the third.
"They were down, but they were more disgusted that they were down," Houk said, describing his team when it was behind 8-0. "That's the advantage of having an older team like this. They know what can happen.
Even the Travellers' younger players knew they weren't out of it.
"We never gave up," said Oelschlager, who went 3-for-4. "You can't give up, especially in college with aluminum bats."
The Oilers had the same aluminum advantage, though, and reclaimed an 11-6 lead in the fifth.
"WE BATTLED back, but we just couldn't hold them once we came back," Houk said. "If you're always battling to come back, you almost have to hope to keep them scoreless."
The Travellers couldn't do that. Mike McLeod, the first of three relievers, allowed four more runs in 4 innings. Then came Rick DeHart, who gave six runs in 2 .
Maupintour made another run in the sixth, closing to 11-9. The bomb dropped, though, when Kenai scored six in the top of the seventh and held on for the run-rule win.