The Southern Illinois Miners got a solid start on the mound from Ryan McAuliffe in his Southern Illinois debut, and early offense to grab a one-run lead, but could not hold it as the Lake Erie Crushers scored six runs on just two hits in the sixth and seventh innings combined to hand the Miners a 7-2 loss at Sprenger Stadium.
Both McAuliffe and Lake Erie's Dylan Mouzakes were in control early, with both right-handers allowing base-runners, but holding the line in a scoreless game through three innings. That changed when Chris Iriart led off the fourth inning with a double, and was driven home by Anthony Brocato's two-out double for a 1-0 lead.
The lead held until the bottom of the fifth inning, when the Crushers tied it on a two-out error by Stephen Lohr on a pop-up by Dane Hutcheon down the left field line. In the next half-inning, the Miners got back-to-back singles by Kyle Davis and Alex Santana, with a fielder's choice moving Davis to third with two outs. A wild pitch by Michael Stryffeler (1-0) made the score 2-1 Miners. McAuliffe completed five innings with no earned runs allowed and four strikeouts in his first official game with the club, putting himself in line for the victory.
But things went wrong in the bottom of the sixth. Patrick Duester (0-1) sandwiched a walk with two hit batters, loading the bases with nobody out before Emmanuel Marrero drew a walk off Andrew Bernstein to tie the score at 2-2. An error by Joe Duncan in center field scored the go-ahead run and made it 3-2, and the Crushers used a fielder's choice and an RBI groundout to bring home two additional runs for a total of four in the frame without a single hit, making the score 5-2.
They would add on two more runs with two outs on base hits by Marrero and Karl Ellison in the seventh inning to push the margin out to 7-2, which held the rest of the way. Santana finished with two hits, while Iriart, Brocato and Gianfranco Wawoe all hit doubles for the Miners, but it was not enough as they dropped to 1-3 on the season.
Southern Illinois will look to rebound in the second game of the series against the Crushers on Wednesday morning at 10:05 a.m., with Chase Cunningham pitching for the Miners against Lake Erie ace Alex Romero.
The Southern Illinois Miners are the Frontier League's most-successful 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.southernillinoisminers.com.