The Southern Illinois Miners split a doubleheader against the Normal CornBelters for the second night in a row, winning 2-1 in the first game before losing 10-1 in the second contest, finishing their regular season home schedule at 27-22.
In the first game, the Miners broke a scoreless tie when Romeo Cortina and Nolan Earley hit back-to-back doubles off of Normal's Anthony Herrera (7-4), making it 1-0 before Kyle Davis came up clutch with a two-out RBI single to right field to double the advantage.
That would prove to be the winning hit- Normal scored their lone run on a two-out single by Santiago Chirino to cut the Miners' lead in half, but starter Kurt Heyer (8-7) kept the CornBelters off the board otherwise, tossing six strong innings while allowing four hits and two walks along with two strikeouts to get the win. Zach Hartman pitched in the seventh inning, and despite allowing a leadoff double, struck out two in the frame for the save as the Miners clinched the series win over the CornBelters.
With a chance to take four of five games in the series in game two, however, Southern Illinois' pitching could not hold the Normal offense off the board, as they scored single runs in the first, second and third innings for a 3-0 lead. The CornBelters then batted around and scored six runs in the fourth to put the game out of reach, with a grand slam home run from Chris Iriart standing as the big blow.
At the plate, the Miners were shut out through five by innings Chance Simpson (1-0) on only one hit and four walks. After Normal added on and made the score 10-0 in the seventh, the Miners broke up the shutout with two outs on Cortina's double to left field, but it was too little and too late as Normal salvaged the series finale.
The second contest also featured Earley's pro debut on the mound, as the lefty outfielder allowed just one unearned run in two innings of work, walking two and striking out one.
Now sitting 2.5 games behind first-place River City in the West Division and just 1.5 games back in the wild card chase, the Miners face a critical last week on the road with their playoff fate in the balance beginning on Tuesday night at 6:35 p.m. at CarShield Field against River City. Geno Encina gets the assignment in the series opener against the Rascals' Dalton Roach in O'Fallon, Missouri.
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.