The Southern Illinois Miners broke a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the eighth, scoring the go-ahead and eventual winning run on an error by the Florence Freedom to notch a 2-1 victory at Rent One Park on Wednesday night, clinching the three-game series at home while winning for the 12th time in their last 13 games overall.
The game was a pitcher's duel deluxe between the Miners' Chase Cunningham and the Freedom's Zak Spivy. It was Spivy who broke first, as with one out in the bottom of the second inning, Kyle Davis singled and Taylor Sparks doubled to extend their hit streaks to 13 and eight in a row, respectively, and put runners at second and third base. Arturo Nieto then singled to center field to make the score 1-0.
Cunningham (9-4), meanwhile, settled into a groove after stranding four runners on base in the first two innings, needing just 13 pitches total to retire the side in the third and fourth. But a leadoff walk led to the tying run in the fifth, as Austin Wobrock drew the base-on-balls and was sacrificed to second base by Jackson Pritchard before Luis Pintor's soft RBI single to left-center made the score 1-1.
Cunningham, would strike out two to keep it tied in that inning, however, and ended up tying his career-best with eight innings pitched, permitting just the one run on five hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. And after the Miners could not bring in the go-ahead run despite a leadoff walk against Spivy in the seventh inning, they made Cunningham the winning pitcher with a rally in the eighth.
Kirvin Moesquit led off with a walk against reliever Jared Cheek (0-1) and was sacrificed to second base by Omar Obregon. A single by Yeltsin Gudino then moved Moesquit to third base and extended his personal hit streak to ten in a row. Gianfranco Wawoe followed by hitting a high, bouncing ground ball to third base, where Trevor Craport made a leaping catch, keeping Moesquit near the bag. But Craport's throw across to first base was late, and the ball skidded away from Taylor Bryant into foul ground for an error, allowing Moesquit to score and put the Miners in the lead 3-2.
In the top of the ninth, Gabe Gentner worked around the tying run on base for his tenth save of the season and second in as many nights by striking out two to give the Miners the one-run victory, allowing them to keep pace in the crowded West Division playoff chase. Now just one game back of Florence, the Miners will look to sweep the Freedom on Thursday, August 15, in the series finale, sending Cole Cook to the mound against Florence's Mike Castellani at 6:35 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.