The Southern Illinois Miners won their fifth and sixth games in a row on Tuesday, sweeping a doubleheader from the Gateway Grizzlies by scores of 6-2 and 5-0 to pull into a tie for the second wild card playoff spot in the Frontier League standings at GCS Credit Union Ballpark.
In the first game, the Miners loaded the bases in the top of the second inning with one out for Joe Duncan, who brought in the game's first run with a sacrifice fly. In the bottom half, Gateway was able to tie it up on a bases-loaded walk by Marty Anderson, but that tied score would not last long, as Kyle Davis came up with a go-ahead RBI single in the top of the third to make it 2-1 Miners. Southern Illinois then scored three times in the next inning, with a two-run single by Yeltsin Gudino and a two-out, RBI triple by Jamey Smart chasing Grizzlies starter Ian Kahaloa (1-5) and making the score 5-1.
After the Grizzlies got a run back in the bottom half, an RBI double by Duncan in the top of the fifth pushed the lead out to 6-2, and Heath Renz took care of the rest, tossing three and two-thirds innings to finish the game while tying his season- and career-high with five strikeouts in earning his first win of the season.
In the second game, Gudino came up as the second batter of the game, and gave Southern Illinois an immediate 1-0 lead with a solo home run to right field off Thomas Nicoll (3-3). The Miners would then extend the lead to 3-0 in the third as Omar Obregon led off with a walk and Gudino singled before a stolen base and an error by the catcher brought in Obregon from third base, with a wild pitch scoring Gudino later in the frame.
Meanwhile, Andrew Bernstein was sharp on the mound for Southern Illinois, allowing just one baserunner in the first four innings on a hit batter, and carrying a no-hitter through the first five innings with four strikeouts. Duncan would add to the lead with a solo home run in the top of the fourth, his first of the season, to make the score 4-0, and Taylor Sparks would bring in another run with a groundout in the sixth inning after Davis led off with a triple to cap the scoring.
In the bottom half, Connor Owings' single broke up the no-hitter and put two men on base for Gateway with no one out, but Will Headean came in and struck out all three batters he faced to keep the shutout intact and strand both runners. Gabe Gentner then polished off the combined one-hitter with a flawless seventh inning as Southern Illinois won for the tenth time in their last 12 games to improve to 40-33 overall on the season and pull into a tie for the second wild card spot in the Frontier League playoff picture.
The Miners will look to keep their win streak going in the third game of the four-game series at Gateway on Wednesday night, with Ryan McAuliffe pitching against the Grizzlies' Reign Letkeman at 7:05 p.m. in Sauget.
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.