The Southern Illinois Miners fell behind early on Thursday night against the Evansville Otters and would not be able to recover, dropping a 6-3 decision at Rent One Park to fall to 4.5 games back in the Frontier League's West Division.
The Otters would score almost immediately in the game when Josh Allen tripled in the top of the first inning and scored on a Jeffery Baez sacrifice fly to make it 1-0 against Michael Austin (4-6). They would also score two more runs in the second inning to take a 3-0 lead thanks to a hit batter and consecutive doubles by Andy DeJesus and Gary Mattis, all with two outs in the frame.
Southern Illinois was able to get within 3-1 in the bottom of the third against Otters starter Tim Holdgrafer (9-3), also on a two-out rally when Nolan Earley was hit by a pitch, and Ariel Sandoval reached on a wild pitch after striking out swinging. Jamey Smart then extended his hitting streak to nine in a row with an RBI single to center field to cut the deficit to 3-1.
But Evansville responded in the top of the fourth with three runs of their own for a 6-1 margin. The Miners would claw back to within three runs in the middle frames, as Bryant Flete doubled in the fifth and eventually scored on a wild pitch to make it 6-2, while Smart led off the sixth inning with a solo home run to slice it to 6-3, but it was not enough as Southern Illinois dropped their first series at home since late June.
Bright spots for the Miners included Smart, who finished 3-for-3 in the game, continuing a torrid stretch at the plate in his return to the team, as well as the bullpen, which held the Otters down after Austin departed. Zach Lauzon tossed three scoreless innings with a career-high five strikeouts, with Mitchell Walters and Augie Voight combining for three more strikeouts in the final two innings.
The Miners head to Sauget next for their final road tilts of the season, taking on the Gateway Grizzlies in a three-game series that begins Friday, September 3, at 6:45 p.m., with Jake Fisher scheduled to start the opener of the weekend set on the mound for Southern Illinois.
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.