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Miners knock off first-place Rascals twice

  • Max Dutto throws to first base Wednesday night.

    Max Dutto throws to first base Wednesday night.
    All photos by Justin Walker
















 
By Justin Walker
updated: 7/26/2018 4:35 AM

MARION -- The good news for the Southern Illinois Miners is that nobody else in the Frontier League's West Division is doing fantastic either.

The Miners have had their ups and downs this season but after taking two games from the West-leading River City Rascals this week, they're just two games away from taking that top spot in the standings.

Southern Illinois opened its 10-game homestand Tuesday night with a 6-1 win over the Rascals and then rallied for a 4-3 win Wednesday to clinch the series win at Rent One Park. The teams were scheduled for a third game Thursday.

The two wins put the Miners at 28-30 but just two games behind River City (32-30) which dropped to 2-8 in its last 10 games. In between are Florence (31-30), Evansville (30-31) and Normal (29-30) with Gateway (27-37).

On Tuesday, Nolan Earley hit his eighth homer in the first inning, Chance Shepard blasted his 16th of the year in the fourth and Joe Duncan also went deep in the fifth to back Steven Ridings, who took a no-hitter into the sixth inning.

Harrison Bragg added an RBI single and Jake Willsey ripped a two-run triple in the eighth to put the game away. Ridings had eight strikeouts and no walks.

Then on Wednesday, the Miners fell behind 2-0 but rallied twice for a 4-3 victory.

Former Miners pitcher Josh Kimborowicz kept the Miners scoreless for four frames -- although they stranded seven baserunners -- but in the fifth Shepard riped a two-run double to score Kurt Wertz Jr. and Earley to tie the game.

Romeo Cortina then drove in Shepard with his own double for a 3-2 lead, and although the Rascals tied it with the help of an odd error, the Miners went ahead on a hit by Bragg in the seventh, when Joe Dudek started a rally with a one-out single.

John Werner allowed the potential tying run to reach third in the ninth but struck out two batters for his fifth save.

This weekend, the Miners remain home and host the Florence Freedom in a three-game series beginning Friday.