The Southern Illinois Miners struck for four runs in the top of the first inning and eventually built a 7-0 lead against the Gateway Grizzlies en route to a 9-4 win at GCS Credit Union Ballpark, their eighth straight win and twelfth in their last 14 games overall, sweeping the four-game series on the road and moving into the second wild card playoff spot in the Frontier League standings.
The Miners wasted no time in getting to Gateway starter Dominic Topoozian (5-5), as Omar Obregon's leadoff single was followed in kind by singles from Yeltsin Gudino and Gianfranco Wawoe to load the bases with no one out in the first inning. After a flyout, Kyle Davis extended his hitting streak to eight in a row with a two-run double off the left field fence, making it 2-0 Southern Illinois. Later in the inning, Joe Duncan's sharp grounder with two outs and the bases re-loaded was booted for an error by second baseman Gunnar Buhner, bringing in Davis and Andy Cosgrove to make the score 4-0.
In the second inning, the Miners extended their lead on a two-out RBI single by Jamey Smart to 5-0, and RBIs by Obregon and Gudino in the third inning made it a 7-0 score. Gateway got three runs back in the last of the third inning against Miners starter Cole Cook, including two on a two-out double by Matt Brown, but would not score despite threatening in the fourth inning as Southern Illinois held their lead.
Gudino struck in the fifth for an RBI double off Topoozian to make it 8-3, but the Grizzlies would threaten that lead by scoring the run back in the bottom half, then loading the bases with two outs to bring the tying run to the plate and chase Cook. Cody Thompson came in and recorded the final out of the frame, then ran into trouble in the sixth when the Grizzlies re-loaded the bases and again brought the tying run to the plate.
But that would be the last time that Gateway threatened the Miners' advantage, as Will Headean came in and stranded the bases loaded in the sixth before throwing a scoreless seventh inning with two strikeouts. Gabe Gentner and Jordan Brink polished off the win with perfect innings in the eighth and ninth around an insurance run on an RBI by Davis in the eighth that provided the final margin.
Southern Illinois had 15 hits for the game, two off of a season-high as a team, with Obregon going 3-for-5 with three runs scored and an RBI while five other Miners- Gudino, Wawoe, Smart, Duncan and Taylor Sparks- each had two hits in the game. Davis ended up with three runs batted in as well as the Miners improved to 42-33 on the season, putting themselves in possession of the second wild card spot in the Frontier League's playoff picture and finishing 7-0 on the road swing through Sauget and Evansville.
They will look to continue their momentum when they begin a six-game homestand on Friday, August 9, at 7:05 p.m. against the Schaumburg Boomers. Chase Cunningham will toe the rubber for the Miners against former Southern Illinois left-hander Aaron Rozek at Rent One Park.
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.