The Southern Illinois Miners were down 8-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning, and trailed 8-6 down to their final out in the bottom of the ninth before Kurt Wertz, Jr. launched a walk-off, three-run home run to left-center field as the Miners beat the Lake Erie Crushers in dramatic fashion 9-8 on Saturday night at Rent One Park.
The game went back and forth in the first as Jordan Dean's solo home run put the Crushers on top 1-0, but Southern Illinois responded with two runs in the bottom of the first on RBI doubles by Ryan Lashley and Wertz to take a 2-1 lead. That lead would hold up until the third inning, when Dean stroked a two-run home run to left to put Lake Erie in front 3-2. With both starters in Corey Sessions and Jordan Kurokawa settling down in the ensuing frames, the score remained 3-2 until the fifth, when a two-run homer by Sean Hurley gave the Crushers a 5-2 advantage.
Lake Erie added on three more runs in the top of the seventh inning to lead 8-2 at the seventh-inning stretch before the Miners began their comeback. Wertz led off the bottom of the seventh with a double, and scored two batters later on a Justin Chigbogu RBI triple. Ben Moore followed with a double to right field to bring home a second run and make it 8-4 before London Lindley's subsequent single brought Moore home and drew the Miners within 8-5. Southern Illinois would load the bases with no one out in the eighth, but fail to score, setting up a dramatic bottom of the ninth inning.
Lindley bounced a single over the drawn-in infield to lead off against Crushers closer Chandler Jagodzinski (0-2), and after a flyout for the first out, Brett Wiley reached on an infield hit to put runners at first and third base for Lashley, who singled to left field to make it 8-6 Crushers and put the tying run on base. After a strikeout for the second out of the inning, Wertz drove a 1-1 pitch over the left-center field wall for the first walk-off homer by a Miners batter since September 4th, 2015 as Southern Illinois clinched the series with the come-from-behind victory.
Wertz finished the game 3-for-4 with two doubles, his walk-off homer, a walk, two runs scored and four RBIs, while Lashley went 2-for-4 with two runs scored, a double and two RBIs of his own. Wiley went 2-for-5 with two runs scored in his Miners debut, while Moore and Lindley also had two hits, a run and an RBI apiece in the contest.
The Miners will now go for a sweep in the final game of their homestand against the Crushers on Sunday at 5:05 p.m., with Tyler Stubblefield on the mound facing the Crushers' Juan Caballero.
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.