The Southern Illinois Miners went back and forth in their game against the Lake Erie Crushers on Tuesday night before scoring three late runs to break a 7-7 deadlock in a 10-7 victory at Mercy Health Stadium in Avon, Ohio, the team's seventh win in a row.
In the top of the second inning, the Miners took the initial lead, loading the bases with no one out for Arturo Nieto, who hit a sacrifice fly to center field to make it 1-0. Jarrod Watkins then followed by hitting a two-run single through the drawn-in infield to extend the lead to 3-0. Lake Erie would rally, however, taking the lead with a four-run bottom half of the second inning on a solo homer by Bryan De La Rosa, and back-to-back RBI hits with two outs by Zach Racusin and Steven Kraft to take a 4-3 lead.
In the top of the third, it was the Miners answering back with a four-run frame of their own- a one-out double by Anthony Brocato and a subsequent RBI single by Jamey Smart tied the game at 4-4. Jared Mang then put the Miners ahead once again with a two-run home run to left field at 6-4. Later in the inning, Nieto would single with two outs, and come all the way around to score when Watkins tripled to right-center field, making the score 7-4.
Again, Lake Erie would rally, loading the bases with one out before Kraft hit an RBI single to make it 7-5 in the bottom of the fourth inning. After a pitching change brought Stevie Ledesma into the game, the Crushers tied the score on back-to-back, bases-loaded fielder's choice plays at 7-7. But that would be the last time that Lake Erie got a runner on base in the game, as Ledesma (4-1) buckled down and was perfect for the next four innings, retiring the final 13 batters he faced in the contest while striking out a career-high nine.
He would also earn the win when the Miners took the lead for good in the seventh inning. With two outs, Mang singled and Ian Walters doubled to again set up Nieto, who broke the 7-7 draw with a go-ahead RBI single to make it 8-7. Southern Illinois would also get a pair of insurance runs in the ninth inning on an RBI single by Mang as well as a wild pitch, and Joey Pulido would work a flawless ninth inning for his eighth save as the Miners took the series opener.
Each of the bottom six hitters in the Miners' lineup finished with multiple hits, with Mang's career-high four leading the way along with two RBIs. Nieto enjoyed a season-high three hits and drove in two, while Brocato also finished with three hits, and Watkins had three RBIs. The Miners' 17 hits as a team also tied a season-high, while Southern Illinois pitching retired the last 16 batters they faced to help keep the win streak alive.
The Miners will look to make it eight wins in a row in the middle game against the Crushers on Wednesday, August 25, at 5:35 p.m., with Zac Westcott pitching for the Miners against Lake Erie's Sam Curtis.
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.