The Southern Illinois Miners got a strong start from southpaw Aaron Rozek on the mound on Friday night at GCS Credit Union Ballpark, and their offense came up clutch with two outs in the fourth inning to take the lead for good in what became a 5-2 win over the Gateway Grizzlies in Sauget, the team's third win in their last four games overall.
The game was scoreless after the first three innings as Rozek (3-2) and Gateway's Mike Elwood (6-7) traded zeros. With Harrison Bragg on first base and two outs in the top of the fourth, the Miners pounced- Jake Willsey doubled off the left field wall and Max Dutto walked to load the bases. Joe Duncan was then hit by a pitch to force in the game's first run and make it 1-0 before Kyle Davis came up big, slashing a two-run double down the right field line to extend the lead to 3-0.
Gateway got a run back on a solo shot in the bottom of the fourth from Audie Afenir, but that was the only run Rozek allowed in seven innings in the game, permitting seven scattered hits and one walk along with three strikeouts for his third win of the season.
The Miners would also add insurance in the late frames- with Davis at second base and one out in the top of the seventh, Nolan Earley reached on an infield hit to second base. Hustling all the way, Davis scored on the play to make it 4-1, and it was Earley doubling to left-center field in the ninth that plated an additional run and made it 5-1. Gateway scored on a fielder's choice against Kody Rock in the bottom half for the final margin, but Artemis Kadkhodaian lined out to a leaping Willsey to end the threat and the game.
Chance Shepard and Romeo Cortina joined Davis and Earley with two hits apiece for the Miners' offense, which amassed 11 base knocks in the contest. Davis and Earley also each finished with a pair of RBIs as Southern Illinois took the series opener on the road, and moved back above the .500 mark at 37-36.
The Miners will go for the series win on Saturday, August 11th, at 7:05 p.m., with Austin Dubsky pitching for the Miners opposite Gateway's Taso Stathopoulos.
The Southern Illinois Miners are the Frontier League's winningest franchise since debuting in 2007, winning the 2012 Frontier League Championship as well as division titles in 2010, 2014, 2015 and 2016. They have been awarded the Frontier League Organization of the Year award three times since their inception, and also set a new Frontier League attendance record in their inaugural season. For ticket information, contact the box office at (618) 998-8499. For additional information, visit our website at www.siminers.com.