The Southern Illinois Miners had a 1-0 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth inning, but could not hold it as they lost to the Florence Freedom on Wednesday night at UC Health Stadium by a final score of 8-2 in the opener of a three-game midweek series.
The game opened up as a pitcher's duel between Florence's Jordan Kraus (2-0) and the Miners' Zach Cooper. The Freedom loaded the bases with no one out in the third against Cooper (1-1), but the right-hander was able to wiggle out of the jam with a strikeout, a fielder's choice at home and a groundout to keep the game scoreless.
The Miners took the first lead of the game, in the top of the fourth inning on a two-out RBI single by Ryan Lashley, making the score 1-0. Cooper would hold the fort until the bottom of the fifth, when a two-run home run by Andrew Godbold gave the Freedom a 2-1 lead. Florence would score two more times that inning to take a 4-1 lead after five innings, and would add on against the Southern Illinois bullpen with two runs in the sixth against Brooks Trujillo for a 6-1 advantage.
The Miners got a run back in the seventh on a triple by Ben Moore and a sacrifice fly by Lashley to close within 6-2, but the Freedom again scored two in the bottom half of the inning, with both runs unearned for the final margin.
Southern Illinois will look to rebound in the final day of the series on Thursday with a doubleheader beginning at 4:35 p.m. CT. Corey Sessions will take the mound for game one against the Freedom, while Ethan Gibbons will toe the rubber in the second contest against his former team after the first game concludes.
The Southern Illinois Miners are the 2016 Frontier League West Division Champions, the 2014 and 2015 Frontier League East Division Champions and the 2012 Frontier League Champions. 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 2007, their inaugural season. For ticket information, contact the Rent One Park box office at (618) 998-8499. For any additional information, visit our website at www.southernillinoisminers.com.