The Southern Illinois Miners split a doubleheader against the Normal CornBelters on Saturday night at Rent One Park, winning game one 4-1 behind a great start by Austin Dubsky and timely hitting, while dropping game two 8-6 despite nearly rallying back from an early six-run deficit.
In the first game, the Miners took the lead on an error by Normal catcher Cameron Adams when he bobbled a grounder in front of the plate by Luke Bonfield with a runner at third base and two outs, making it 1-0 in the third inning. The CornBelters tied it up at 1-1 on a fielder's choice by Adams in the top of the fifth inning, but Southern Illinois immediately responded in their half of the inning, as with runners at first and second base, Bonfield doubled down the left field line, plating Nolan Earley to put the Miners ahead 2-1. Kyle Davis then followed with a sacrifice fly to bring home Chance Shepard and extend the lead to 3-1.
A fielder's choice by Earley brought home an additional run in the sixth inning for the final 4-1 score, as Dubsky (6-4) won his third straight start by pitching six innings and allowing just one run on four hits. John Werner nailed down the save with a scoreless seventh inning, his ninth of the year, as the Miners pulled into a momentary five-way tie for the second wild card playoff spot in the Frontier League.
In game two, it was the CornBelters taking control with a four-run rally in the second inning against Aaron Rozek, including a bases-clearing, three-run triple by James Davison, Jr. and a double by Santiago Chirino. Normal plated two more runs against Rozek (3-3) in the third to make it 6-0, but the Miners would rally for three runs of their own, all with two outs, on singles by Earley, Shepard and Bonfield to cut the deficit in half at 6-3.
Neither side was able to add any more runs until Andrew Godbold's two-run double in the top of the seventh off Kody Rock to make it 8-3. That would prove to be the winning hit as well, as the Miners nearly came all the way back from the five-run deficit in the bottom half- with a man on base and no one out, Jake Willsey homered off Godbold's leaping glove in left field to make it 8-5. Two batters later, Joe Duncan went deep to cut the Normal lead to 8-6, and after Romeo Cortinawalked, the tying run came to the plate. But the Miners got no closer in suffering the loss, remaining one game back in the wild card chase.
The Miners will face off in another doubleheader against the CornBelters on Sunday, August 26th, to conclude the home portion of their 2018 Frontier League regular season schedule. First pitch of game one is scheduled for 4:05 p.m., with Kurt Heyer and Patrick Duester getting the starting nods on the mound for Southern Illinois.
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.