The Southern Illinois Miners fell behind early against the Florence Freedom, and could not catch the breaks they needed to complete a late push in losing 4-2 at Rent One Park, just the team's second defeat in 14 games in August.
The Freedom used an Isaac Benard sacrifice fly in the top of the first inning to get the lead, after which starter Cole Cook departed the contest. Andrew Bernstein took over, and threw the next three and two-thirds innings in relief. Against him, Florence scored a second run on a two-out, RBI single by Trevor Craport to make it 2-0, and Bernstein departed with two men on base in favor of Heath Renz in the top of the fifth inning. Benard and Craport brought those runs in for a 4-0 lead, but Renz would save most of the rest of the Miners' bullpen by pitching a career-high four and two-thirds innings and allowing no runs of his own while striking out two.
Offensively, the Miners got nothing off Mike Castellani (7-2) in the first five innings, as all three of their baserunners were erased on inning-ending double plays in the third, fourth, and fifth. In the seventh, they would break through as Gianfranco Wawoe and Jamey Smart hit back-to-back singles to lead off. Two batters later, Taylor Sparks cranked an RBI double off the very top of the left field wall, missing a three-run homer by inches, but scoring Wawoe to make it 4-1.
Later, in the ninth inning, the Miners would bring the tying run to the plate, with Kyle Davis extending his hit streak to 14 in a row with a one-out single, and Sparks drawing a walk against Karl Craigie. The left-hander then balked the runners to second and third base, and Andy Cosgrove made it 4-2 with a sacrifice fly to right field. But Craigie got the final out for the save, dropping the Miners to 46-35 on the season.
Southern Illinois will look to bounce back on the road, as they head to Joliet to begin a three-game weekend against the Slammers on Friday, August 16, at 7:05 p.m. Marty Anderson will pitch for the Miners in the series opener against Joliet's Tyler Jones at DuPage Medical Group Field.
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.