The Southern Illinois Miners received yet another quality start from Chase Cunningham on the mound, with the right-hander and two relievers combining for 14 strikeouts as they beat the Lake Erie Crushers 2-1 in a pitcher's duel on Friday night at Sprenger Stadium.
Neither team scored in the first two innings, and after Cunningham (3-2) tossed a rare, three-pitch bottom of the second, the Miners jumped in front for good in the top of the third against Lake Erie starter Patrick Ledet (1-1). Kyle Davis led off with a single and was replaced on a fielder's choice ground ball by Arturo Nieto. After Joe Duncan singled and Bryant Flete reached on another fielder's choice, Jonathan Pryor came up with runners at first and third base, and smacked a go-ahead, two-run double with two outs over left fielder Zach Racusin's head, putting Southern Illinois up 2-0.
That was all that Cunningham needed, as he shut out the Crushers on just three hits through the first five innings. In the sixth, Lake Erie used three walks, an error and a wild pitch to plate a run and make it 2-1. The Crushers then had the bases loaded and the tying run at third with just one out in the inning, but Cunningham struck out Racusin and Emmanuel Marrero to preserve the lead.
Jordan Brink came in from the bullpen after Cunningham departed in the seventh inning and struck out all five batters he faced, and Gabe Gentner worked around a two-out error in the ninth to strike out Aaron Hill swinging and earn the save as the Miners won the first game of a road series for the first time this season.
Cunningham pitched six and one-third innings and surrendered just four hits and one unearned run, walking three and striking out a Miners season-high eight to record his third-straight win on the mound, while Pryor's game-winning double was part of a three-hit night to tie the outfielder's career-high.
The Miners will now go for the series win in the middle game on Saturday, June 8 at Sprenger Stadium. Nick Stroud will pitch for the Miners against the Crushers' Greyfer Eregua at 5:05 p.m.
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.