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Miners edge Otters in final exhibition games

  • Bryson Bowman makes a catch near the wall during Tuesday's exhibition game against Evansville.

    Bryson Bowman makes a catch near the wall during Tuesday's exhibition game against Evansville.
    Justin Walker Photo

  • Cletis Avery

    Cletis Avery
    Justin Walker Photo

  • Luis Jean

    Luis Jean
    Justin Walker Photo

  • Justin Walker Photo

  • Justin Walker Photo

  • Nick Palacios

    Nick Palacios
    Justin Walker Photo

  • Bryson Bowman

    Bryson Bowman
    Justin Walker Photo

updated: 5/10/2018 1:55 AM

MARION -- Such is the nature of independent professional baseball.

Bryson Bowman made a ridiculous highlight reel catch and scored the winning run in the Southern Illinois Miners' 6-5 exhibition win over Evansville on Tuesday at Rent One Park.

Bowman was then released by the team later in the day.

The Miners had to trim their roster down to 24 players before Friday night's Frontier League season opener against Lake Erie, which begins at Rent One Park at 7:05 p.m.

Miners manager Mike Pinto always has to make tough decisions and have hard conversations in spring camp and Tuesday was likely no exception.

"Spring training is about both trying to get them ready and evaluating at the same time," Pinto said. "We're still fighting with classification rules and sometimes guys don't make it just because of that and not because of their skill. It makes it tougher. These are all very tough calls."

Bowman had already collected an RBI in the most painful way possible -- getting hit by a pitch -- before hustling to reach in the ninth. He stole second base and reached third when the throw went into the outfield and moments later scored the decisive run on a sacrifice fly by Austin Call.

Call was also released Tuesday night.

"We tell these guys, 'Make it so we can't ignore you,'" Pinto said after the game. "(Corey) Dempster is a good example. He's found his way on base every game. That's hard to ignore."

Dempster reached base four times in Tuesday's game.

Another player who has been impossible to ignore in the exhibition portion of the season is rookie second baseman Cletis Avery, who had another run-scoring hit Tuesday.

"He's been pretty strong since he got here," Pinto said. "We had worked him out in a tryout back in the fall and really liked him then. Steve Marino had seen him in college and coached against him. He's already had some big hits. He's going to be a good addition for us."

Avery was then put on the disabled list after Wednesday's final exhibition game when rosters were given their last trimmings.

When healthy, Avery provides a pretty slick infielding combination with shortstop Luis Jean, who was in Double A last season. Pinto said in spring camp Jean has been working to regain the footwork at shortstop, his most natural position, after being put at third base for two seasons in Colorado's affiliated ranks.

Roster moves were also complicated by returning outfielder Kurt Wertz Jr. suffering a quad injury that will put him on the disabled list for at least two weeks -- but also opened up an experienced player slot on the classification chart.

The exhibition season ended Wednesday with the Miners beating the Otters again, 8-7, while playing as the home team at Evansville's Bosse Field. The winning runs came on a two-run homer by Nolan Earley in the ninth after Joe Dudek collected his fourth hit of the game.

Returning players Earley, Romeo Cortina and Anthony Critelli all had two hits in the win. Critelli also homered.