Aug 31, 2017
The Southern Illinois Miners received a dominant start from right-hander Zach Cooper on the mound, as he tossed a complete-game, three-hitter with a career-best nine strikeouts to give the Miners a 4-2 win over the Gateway Grizzlies on Thursday night in their final home contest of the 2017 season.
After Cooper (6-10) retired the first six batters he faced, the Grizzlies struck for their two runs in the third inning on a bases-loaded fielder's choice by Brent Sakurai and a subsequent RBI single by Terry McClure to make the score 2-0 Gateway. It remained 2-0 Grizzlies until the bottom of the fifth inning, when the Miners got their bats going after rookie right-hander Dalton Shalberg (0-3) had pitched four shutout innings. Ben Moore and Culver Plant worked back-to-back leadoff walks and were advanced to second and third base on a bunt by London Lindley. Then, on the first pitch he saw from Shalberg, Romeo Cortina blasted a go-ahead three-run home run down the left field line, turning a two-run deficit into a 3-2 Miners lead with one swing.
Cooper took it from there, as he would allow just one baserunner for the rest of the game after Gateway scored their runs, retiring a remarkable 19 of the final 20 hitters he faced in the contest. He finished with his first career complete game, allowing just three hits and one walk while setting a new career high by striking out nine Grizzlies and tossing 78 of his 104 pitches for strikes in his final start for the Miners.
Offensively, Cortina went 2-for-4 with a double, homer and three RBIs while Craig Massey, also playing in his final home game as a Miner, added a 2-for-4 game with an RBI single in his final at-bat in front of the Miners' faithful to add insurance in the bottom of the eighth inning and produce the final margin of victory.
Southern Illinois will complete their season this weekend on the road, taking on the River City Rascals at CarShield Field in O'Fallon, Missouri. The series will start Friday night at 6:35 p.m., with Corey Sessions pitching for the Miners against River City left-hander Hector Hernandez.
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.