The Southern Illinois Miners made history at Rent One Park against the Evansville Otters on Thursday night, notching their third shutout victory in a row for the first time in franchise history in a 4-0 result to sweep the three-game series.
Evansville threatened to get on the board for the first time in the series in the top of the first inning, loading the bases with no one out against Miners starter Zac Westcott. But the veteran struck out his ex-teammate Riley Krane, and then induced a double-play ground ball from Dakota Phillips to emerge unscathed from the jam.
After the Miners loaded the bases but could not score in the bottom of the first, they went ahead with a two-out rally against Otters starter Ryan O'Reilly (5-3) in the second inning. With two outs and the bases empty, Arturo Nieto singled and Bryant Flete walked before Yeltsin Gudiño smacked an RBI single into left field to make it 1-0 Miners.
In the bottom of the fourth, Southern Illinois would add to their lead with their biggest inning of the series to put the game out of reach. Jared Mang got things started with a solo home run on the first pitch he saw leading off against O'Reilly to make it 2-0 Southern Illinois. Later in the inning, with Flete on second base, he went to third on a wild pitch, then scored when Gudiño stole second base and Otters catcher Michael Gangwish threw the ball into center field for an error, making it 3-0. Nolan Earley followed with an RBI double to score Gudiño for a 4-0 lead, chasing O'Reilly from the game.
Westcott (10-3), meanwhile, settled in to pitch six shutout innings, walking two and striking out a season-high nine for the second start in a row to earn his Frontier League-leading 10th victory of the season. The Miners' bullpen also held Evansville off the board to complete the historic series sweep, the first time in the team's 14-year history that Southern Illinois had recorded three straight shutout wins.
With the sweep, the Miners now sit 3.5 games back of first place in the West Division standings, and will look to keep their win streak rolling this weekend with the Schaumburg Boomers coming to Rent One Park. First pitch of the series opener is set for Friday, August 20, at 7:05 p.m., with Jake Fisher set to start for Southern Illinois in his home debut for the Miners.
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. In addition, they have sent 60 players to MLB organizations in their 14 years of operation. For ticket information, contact the box office at (618) 998-8499. For additional information, visit our website at www.southernillinoisminers.com.