The Southern Illinois Miners got another outstanding start from Chase Cunningham on Sunday, as the veteran struck out ten Washington Wild Things in his return to Wild Things Park as a visiting player to lead the way to a 2-0 victory and a Miners sweep of the weekend series in Washington.
Southern Illinois took the lead in the top of the second inning, loading the bases against Washington starter Nick Gallagher (2-3) for Jarrod Watkins, whose sacrifice fly to center field brought home Kyle Davis and made the score 1-0. Washington then threatened that lead in the bottom of the second, with leadoff singles by Hector Roa and Cody Erickson combining with a hit batter to load the bases with one out.
But Cunningham (10-4) bore down- the ace right-hander got a ground ball back to the mound for a fielder's choice, with the putout at home for the second out of the inning, and then struck out Dom DeRenzo looking to preserve the lead. Making his first start against his former team in Washington since coming to the Miners in an offseason trade, Cunningham then proceeded to almost completely shut down the Wild Things' offense, allowing just one more base-runner (on a two-out, hit-by-pitch in the fifth inning) for the rest of his start.
The veteran ended up striking out 10 in seven shutout innings to earn his Frontier League-leading 10th victory of the season, along with two hits allowed and no walks, becoming the first Miner to earn double-digit victories in a single season since Adam Lopez in 2015. Southern Illinois gave him one more run of support in the fifth inning, as Joe Duncan doubled with one out, and with two down in the inning, Kirvin Moesquit brought in the game's final run with a double of his own.
Will Headean and Gabe Gentner nailed down the final six outs in relief of Cunningham, with Gentner earning his 13th save as Southern Illinois recorded a shutout for the second time in the series, and held the Wild Things to just a single run over the course of the three-game series.
Now just 1.5 games back of a playoff spot in the Frontier League standings, the Miners return home for their final six regular season home games after an off day on Monday, kicking off the homestand with the first of a three-game series against the East-Division leading Lake Erie Crushers on Tuesday, August 27. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. 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.