The Southern Illinois Miners scored six runs in the top of the sixth inning at CarShield Field to come back from a one-run deficit and surge ahead of the River City Rascals en route to an 8-5 victory, keeping the team's wild card playoff hopes alive and clinching the road series two games to one.
It was again the Miners that struck first in the game as Nolan Earley hit a solo home run over the high right field wall off Rascals ace Hector Hernandez (10-7) in the top of the first inning, but the momentary 1-0 lead was short-lived, as the Rascals used two walks to assist a two-run burst to take a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first on RBIs by Paul Kronenfeld and Braxton Martinez.
After Austin Dubsky settled things down on the mound, Southern Illinois tied the score in the top of the fourth inning- Chance Shepard and Luke Bonfield worked walks, and Shepard tagged up and raced for third base on a fly ball to right field. Shepard made it there safely and the throw from Zach Lavy bounced away toward the stands, allowing Shepard to score the tying run and make it 2-2.
The Rascals then went ahead on a solo home run by Trevor Achenbach in the fifth inning to take a 3-2 lead, but Southern Illinois would put together one of their biggest innings of the season in response in the top of the sixth. After a flyout, the next seven Miners hitters reached base safely- Earley singled, Shepard walked and Bonfield singled to load the bases for Kyle Davis, who tied the score with a single to left field at 3-3. That chased Hernandez from the game, and Anthony Critelli followed with a walk to force in the go-ahead run at 4-3 before Jake Willsey was hit by a pitch, forcing in another run for a 5-3 advantage.
Max Dutto then struck the big blow of the inning, doubling in two runs with a line drive off the right field wall to extend the lead out to 7-3. A Joe Duncan sacrifice fly completed the six-run frame and gave the Miners an 8-3 advantage. The Rascals crept closer with two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, but were halted at 8-5, with the Southern Illinois bullpen holding firm in a win they had to have to keep their chase for the postseason alive.
With three games remaining in the regular season, and sitting only 1 ½ games back in the wild card standings, the Miners take on the Gateway Grizzlies to conclude the regular season in a series beginning on Friday night, August 31st, at 7:05 p.m. Kurt Heyer takes the ball in the series opener against the Grizzlies' Mike Elwood at GCS Credit Union Ballpark in Sauget.
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.