MARION -- The Southern Illinois Miners got a dominant start on the mound from right-hander Chase Cunningham, who threw seven innings of two-run ball to lead his new team over his former team in the Washington Wild Things by a final score of 3-2 at Rent One Park on Wednesday night.
Cunningham (4-2) was in command from the beginning of the game, his first start against Washington after pitching there for the last three seasons. The Wild Things got just two singles and one walk off him in the first six innings of the game, during which the Miners built up a three-run lead. Arturo Nieto began the scoring by leading off the third inning with a solo home run off Washington starter A.J. Bogucki (0-1), his first in a Miners uniform, to make it 1-0.
Then, in the fifth, Nieto led off with a single, and after Bryant Flete singled to move him to third base, Gianfranco Wawoe knocked an RBI single into left field to make it 2-0. Stephen Lohr then singled to left field as well, with a throwing error on Cameron Baranek allowing Flete to score and make it a 3-0 lead for Southern Illinois.
Washington trailed by that 3-0 margin until the seventh inning, when after Hector Roa singled, Mikael Mogues hit a two-run home run two batters later to slice the Miners' lead to one run. But the visitors got no closer- after Cunningham finished the frame, Andrew Bernstein and Jordan Brink capped the win with two scoreless relief innings and five total strikeouts, with Brink notching his third save of the year by striking out the side.
Flete enjoyed his second-straight three-hit night for the Miners, while Nieto finished 2-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI. Cunningham allowed just two runs on four hits with one walk and nine strikeouts, with the latter total tying his career-high in what became his fourth-straight win on the mound for the Miners.
With the victory, coupled by losses by Evansville and River City earlier in the day, Southern Illinois also elevated themselves to second place in the Frontier League's West Division standings, and clinched the home series over the Wild Things while improving their overall record to 16-12.
Miners get stellar start from Anderson, clutch hits to win series opener
The Southern Illinois Miners were down 1-0 through the first five innings against the Washington Wild Things on Tuesday night, but rallied with single runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to pull ahead and eventually win the series opener 3-2 at Rent One Park, improving to 15-12 overall and 8-2 at home.
Marty Anderson started for the Miners, and the Wild Things were able to get three hits (all doubles) off him in the first three innings, with Cameron Baranek's in the second inning scoring Mikael Mogues and making it 1-0 Washington. But that was the last hit Anderson (1-0) gave up in putting together a second-straight outstanding start against the Wild Things. The southpaw pitched a season-high seven and one-third innings, and allowed just the solitary run on three hits with two walks and nine strikeouts to tie a Miners season-high. He also retired the final ten batters that he faced in the contest in what became his first victory in a Southern Illinois uniform.
Offensively, the Miners were stymied by Nick Wegmann until the bottom of the sixth inning, when Bryant Flete took Wegmann deep into the visiting bullpen for a solo home run, his first as a Miner, to tie the game at 1-1. In the following inning against reliever Jesus Balaguer (0-1), Joe Duncan singled with one out, and with two outs, Jonathan Pryor singled up the middle to advance Duncan to third base. Gianfranco Wawoe then beat out an infield hit to the third baseman Wander Franco, hustling up the line safely to bring in the go-ahead run and make it 2-1 Southern Illinois.
In the eighth, the Miners tacked on an insurance run that would prove to also be the winning run as Alex Santana, Duncan, and Flete singled in consecutive at-bats with two outs, with Flete's second run-scoring hit of the night putting Southern Illinois up 3-1. In the bottom of the frame, Baranek hit a solo home run with two outs to make it 3-2 and Brett Marr singled to put the tying run on base, but Gabe Gentner got Saige Jenco to fly out to center field to end the game.
Flete ended up going 3-for-5 with two RBIs at the top of the order to lead the Miners' offense, which outhit Washington's ten to five in the game as Southern Illinois improved to 4-0 this year in series openers at home.