The Southern Illinois Miners trailed nearly the entire game on Tuesday night against the Evansville Otters, but rallied to score four times in the bottom of the ninth inning, culminating in a walk-off, three-run home run by Chance Shepard in a 5-3 victory at Rent One Park.
Evansville scored the first three runs of the game, using the long ball against Miners starter Geno Encina. Austin Bush cracked a two-run shot to right-center field in the second inning, while Ryan Long also hit one out to right-center for a solo home run to make it 3-0 in the third inning. Encina settled down after that, lasting six and two-thirds innings with six strikeouts, and keeping the Miners in the game by holding the Otters at bay.
Southern Illinois got on the board in the bottom of the fourth inning on a solo home run by Harrison Bragg, making the score 3-1 Evansville. The Miners would then get the tying run to the plate in every inning for the rest of the game, stranding single baserunners in the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth innings before finally breaking through against Evansville closer Mitchell Aker (1-5) in the ninth.
Kyle Davis led off the inning with a pinch-hit single, and Joe Duncan followed with a single to put the tying run on base. A passed ball advanced the runners to second and third base with no one out, and Romeo Cortina hit a ground ball to the shortstop, with J.J. Gould throwing to third base for the out on Duncan as Davis scored to make it a 3-2 game. Nolan Earley then drew a walk to set up Shepard, who promptly drilled his second walk-off home run of the year against the Otters over the left field fence to win it for the Miners.
Shepard's walk-off blast was his 20th home run of the year, making him just the third player in Miners history to reach the milestone, alongside Frontier League Hall-of-Famer and 2009 league MVP Joey Metropoulos as well as Tim Dorn in the exclusive club.
The Miners remain at home after an off day for the Colt World Series championship on Wednesday, and will host the Otters in a doubleheader on Thursday night, August 9th, at 5:30 p.m. Steven Ridings will pitch game one opposite Evansville's Tyler Beardsley, while Kurt Heyer will get the ball in the second contest against the Otters' Tyler Vail.
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.