The Southern Illinois Miners got a dominant start from right-hander Zach Cooper, as he tossed seven and two-thirds innings and allowed just two hits and four baserunners with a career-high eight strikeouts in a 3-0 win over the Lake Erie Crushers at Rent One Park on Friday night.
The game was another pitcher's duel, with former Miner Steve Hagen (3-2) going the distance for Lake Erie, allowing three runs on five hits with three strikeouts, but he was out-dueled by Cooper (2-4), who allowed two singles and one walk with one hit batter in the game. After Brandon Murray singled with two outs in the first inning, Cooper sent down the next 14 Lake Erie batters in a row to take command of the game.
Meanwhile, the Miners got timely hits in the third and sixth to score runs off Hagen and take the lead. With two outs in the third inning after Hagen had retired the first eight batters he faced, London Lindley singled and then scored from first base when Craig Massey doubled to right-center field to make it 1-0 Southern Illinois. In the sixth inning, Massey beat Hagen to the first base bag on a ground ball to the right side of the infield for a hit, and Kurt Wertz, Jr. sent the next pitch over the right-center field wall for a two-run home run and a 3-0 Miners lead.
That was all Cooper and the Miners needed in the game. The starter departed after Lake Erie got the tying run to the plate with two outs in the eighth inning, but John Lollar got the next man out on one pitch to end the frame before John Werner pitched a perfect ninth inning for his fifth save of the season.
Southern Illinois will look to clinch the series in the second game on Saturday night at 6:05 p.m., with Corey Sessions pitching for the home team against the Crushers' Jordan Kurokawa.
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.