The Southern Illinois Miners had the lead twice in a pitcher's duel on Friday night against the Traverse City Beach Bums at Rent One Park, but the visitors scored the tying runs in the middle frames, then went ahead in the 11th inning before hanging on for a 5-4 win in the rubber match of the three-game series.
The game went by quickly through the first six innings, as starters Chris Washington and John Havird kept the other team's offense off-balance. It was Havird who cracked first, hitting Nolan Earley with a pitch to lead off the bottom of the fifth inning. After a single by Justin Chigbogu moved him to third base, Ben Moore's single drove him in and made it 1-0 Miners. The Beach Bums got the run right back in the top of the sixth, as Giancarlo Brugnoni reached on a wild pitch after striking out, was sacrificed to second base and scored on an RBI single by Arby Fields to make it 1-1. It would be the only run Washington allowed in seven innings in his first professional start for the Miners, with no walks and five strikeouts.
In the bottom of the seventh, Havird departed after allowing a single to Willi Martin and a one-out double by Chigbogu. A balk on Enrique Oquendo brought home the go-ahead run to make it 2-1, but Traverse City again tied the score right away on a pinch-hit single by Jeff DeBlieux in the top of the eighth inning, knotting the score at 2-2.
Both teams had chances to break the tie in the late innings. In the bottom of the eighth, with two outs, the Miners loaded the bases but left them loaded, and Southern Illinois stranded two more runners in the tenth inning. Traverse City also had two runners on in the ninth and tenth frames, but John Werner and Nick Palacios kept them off the board.
In the 11th inning, with the International Tiebreaker in effect, Alexis Rivera singled home the go-ahead run, and Elijah Trail followed two batters later with a ground-rule double that brought home two additional runs to make the score 5-2 Beach Bums. Chigbogu led off the bottom half with an automatic runner at second by crushing a two-run home run to center field to get the Miners within 5-4. With two outs, London Lindley singled to keep the game alive, but a flyout by Craig Massey ended the contest as the visitors escaped with the series-clinching win.
Chigbogu went 3-for-5 with a double, home run and two RBIs, while Ryan Lashley also had three hits in five at-bats in the game, but it was not enough. The Miners will look to bounce back on Friday night when they entertain the Lake Erie Crushers at 7:05 p.m. in the first game of a weekend series.
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.