MARION -- The Southern Illinois Miners announce that their June 16 home game against the River City Rascals has been postponed. As the Rascals do not return to Marion for the rest of the regular season, the game will be made up when the Miners travel to O'Fallon, Missouri to play River City from July 19-21, with the exact date of the game to be announced later.
Winners of seven of their last eight games overall, the Miners will now take a five-game win streak on the road this coming week. Southern Illinois returns to action on Tuesday, June 18 against the Windy City ThunderBolts at Ozinga Field in Crestwood.
Chase Cunningham will make the start to kick off a six-game road trip for Southern Illinois against former Miners southpaw Chris Washington, with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
Saturday game: Miners rally from 3-0 deficit to beat Rascals
The Miners kept up their winning ways on Saturday at Rent One Park, beating the River City Rascals 4-3 to take their fifth straight victory and seventh in their last eight games overall while improving to 12-2 at home this season.
It did not begin well for the Miners or rookie starter Greg Marino, who was making his professional debut. The tall right-hander hit J.D. Hearn leading off the first inning and two batters later walked Kameron Esthay before Braxton Martinez sneaked a double inside the right field line for a 1-0 River City lead. Nolan Meadows followed with a two-run double to right field and the Rascals had a 3-0 advantage, but Marino struck out two to hold the line there.
The Miners had runners on base all night against River City starter Travis McQueen, however, as they began their comeback in the bottom of the second inning. Jarrod Watkins singled to lead off and later in the frame was driven in by Bryant Flete on a single to make it a 3-1 game. They were then able to tie the game in the bottom of the fourth inning when Flete smacked a one-out double down the right field line followed by an Anthony Jimenez walk and Gianfranco Wawoe single to load the bases. Stephen Lohr brought in a run with a sacrifice fly to make it 3-2, and Kyle Davis followed by rocking a double to left-center field which tied the score at 3-3.
With Marino (1-0) settling in to keep the Rascals at bay on the mound, Southern Illinois took the lead for good in the fifth against reliever Kyle Fimbrez. With two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning, Joe Duncan and Flete both singled, and Jimenez reached on an infield hit to the right side, with Duncan hustling all the way from second base to score the go-ahead run and make it 4-3 Miners.
The Miners' bullpen then made the lead stand up, with scoreless innings from Heath Renz, Benjamin Dum, Jordan Brink and Gabe Gentner polishing off the series-clinching victory. Gentner recorded his fourth save in the contest, and Marino earned the victory in his pro debut by lasting five innings and holding the Rascals off the board after their three-run rally in the first inning, walking four and striking out five.
Friday game: Nieto's walkoff double stuns River City
The Southern Illinois Miners won their fourth game in a row and sixth in their last seven games overall in dramatic fashion on Friday night at Rent One Park, scoring four runs in the bottom of the ninth inning and walking off the River City Rascals 5-4 on Arturo Nieto's bases-clearing double.
River City grabbed the early lead when Braxton Martinez hit a solo home run off Nick Stroud in the top of the second inning, and doubled the lead to 2-0 when Trevor Achenbach walked with two outs, went to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a single by Martinez in the third inning. A leadoff error in the fourth ended up leading to two unearned runs against Stroud when Andrew Bernstein walked two batters with the bases loaded, putting the visitors up 4-0.
Meanwhile, the Miners could not solve rookie right-hander Michael McCraith, who was making his professional debut in the game, as they were shut out on five hits through the first six innings. The comeback began when Chris Iriart slammed his second home run of the year, a solo shot leading off the seventh inning to the deficit to 4-1. They were unable to record another baserunner against the Rascals' bullpen until the ninth inning, and after Cody Thompson (1-1) worked around leadoff walks for scoreless innings in the top of the eighth and ninth, Southern Illinois came up to the plate looking to rally.
Against the Rascals' Yeison Medina (1-2), Gianfranco Wawoe led off with a single and Stephen Lohr walked to bring the tying run to the plate with no one out. Iriart struck out for the first out of the inning, but the rally continued when Kyle Davis singled to load the bases. Andy Cosgrove was called upon to pinch-hit off the bench, and also singled to bring in Wawoe and make it 4-2. Nieto then came up with the bases still loaded and the winning run at first base, and on an 0-2 pitch from Medina, the backstop socked a walk-off double to right-center field that cleared the bases and gave Southern Illinois the improbable comeback victory.
With their third walk-off win of the season, the Miners improved to 18-12 overall and 11-2 at Rent One Park in 2019, and also elevated themselves to just one game back of first-place Florence in the West Division standings.
Thursday game: Big inning allows Miners to sweep Washington
The Southern Illinois Miners rebounded from an early deficit in a big way on Thursday night against the Washington Wild Things, scoring all eight of their runs in the second inning and rolling from there to an 8-3 victory at Rent One Park, sweeping the three-game series with their fifth win in their last six games overall.
Mikael Mogues hit his third homer against the Miners in just over a week when he smacked a solo shot to right field off Austin Dubsky in the top of the first inning to put the Wild Things up 1-0. But in a sign of things to come, Dubsky also struck out the side in that frame to minimize damage. Meanwhile, after Washington starter Michael Austin (2-4) retired the side in order on just eight pitches in the bottom of the first, the Miners would knock him out and take control of the game in the next inning.
Stephen Lohr began it all with a leadoff walk and Andy Cosgrove followed with a bunt single. After a flyout to center field, Jarrod Watkins got his first professional hit- an RBI double inside the third base bag that tied the game at 1-1. Brett Siddall walked to load the bases, and Joe Duncan reached on a fielder's choice with all runners being safe on the play to put Southern Illinois up 2-1. Bryant Flete then followed immediately with an RBI single for a 3-1 lead, and two batters later, Gianfranco Wawoe knocked a two-run single into the outfield to stretch the lead to 5-1.
Two wild pitches and a pair of RBI singles off the bats of Lohr and Cosgrove completed the eight-run outburst, the most runs the Miners had plated in a single inning this season. Dubsky (3-2) gave two runs back in the top of the third inning, making the score 8-3, but that was the closest Washington got as the right-hander completed six innings and struck out a career-high 11 batters while walking only one in the game.
Offensively, Flete, Cosgrove and Watkins all had three hits, one run scored and one RBI, with Flete finishing three hits in all three games of the series against the Wild Things. Wawoe also went 2-for-5 with two RBIs as the Miners rapped out 14 hits as a team, their second-highest total of the season. Seven of the nine batters in the Southern Illinois order scored at least one run while six of the nine drove in at least one run in the game.