The Southern Illinois Miners had a 2-0 lead over the Gateway Grizzlies after six innings at Rent One Park on Friday night, but could not hold it, as the visitors scored once in the seventh and three times in the eighth, all with two outs, to sink the Miners 4-2 and take the series opener.
Geno Encina and Alec Kisena engaged in another pitcher's duel in the contest, as both were dealing through the early part of the game-Kisena had allowed the Miners only one hit and two walks in the first four innings, while Encina permitted just three singles in his first six innings of work.
It was the Miners who broke through with two outs in the fifth inning, as with runners at first and second base, Joe Duncan came up clutch with a double over the outstretched glove of a leaping Cody Livesay in left field, plating both Harrison Bragg and Max Dutto and putting Southern Illinois ahead 2-0.
That lead held until the seventh inning, when Gateway strung together three singles, culminating in a soft line drive to right field by Mitch Piatnik that cut the Miners' lead in half at 2-1. Encina departed after a leadoff single by Jhonniel Alvarez in the top of the eighth inning, and Nick Durazo came on and struck out Shane Mardirosian for the second out before giving way to Kody Rock. After allowing a single by Blake Brown, Rock (1-1) struck out Trae Santos for the second out of the frame, but with a full count on Justin Ellison, the Gateway designated hitter drilled a go-ahead, three-run home run over the right field fence to vault the Grizzlies in front 4-2.
Despite getting the leadoff man on base in the eighth and ninth to bring the tying run to the plate, the Miners could not get closer in suffering their first loss to Gateway on the season after six straight wins. Bragg finished 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored in the contest while Duncan ended up 1-for-5 with two RBIs in the defeat.
The Miners will look to bounce back on Saturday, August 18th, against the Grizzlies at 6:05 p.m., with Aaron Rozek pitching for Southern Illinois against Joe Hauser, who will make his Gateway debut on the bump for the visitors.
The Southern Illinois Miners are the Frontier League's winningest franchise since debuting in 2007, winning the 2012 Frontier League Championship as well as division titles in 2010, 2014, 2015 and 2016. 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 their inaugural season. For ticket information, contact the box office at (618) 998-8499. For additional information, visit our website at www.siminers.com.