The Southern Illinois Miners built an early lead on Saturday against the Lake Erie Crushers, and then turned aside a comeback attempt in the ninth inning when Stephen Lohr's relay throw to the plate nailed Dale Burdick trying to score the tying run, securing the final out of a 5-4 win to clinch the road series in Avon.
Rookie right-hander Nick Stroud got the start on the mound for the Miners, and in his second outing as a professional, the Dalton City, Illinois native was outstanding, holding the Crushers hitless over six and one-third innings while walking six and striking out a Miners season-high nine. Meanwhile, the Miners got on the board on Gianfranco Wawoe's infield RBI single in the third inning against Crushers starter Greyfer Eregua (0-3), then added on in the following inning when Kyle Davis hit a two-run home run to put Southern Illinois up 3-0.
That was all Stroud (1-1) needed in the contest, as he continued to pitch a no-hitter, leaving the game after walking Aaron Hill with one out in the seventh inning. Two batters later, Bodie Bryan broke up the no-hit bid with a single to left that along with an error on Jonathan Pryor scored Hill and made the score 3-1.
The Miners were able to add on two more runs in the top of the eighth against Jake Repavich, as Pryor walked and Wawoe singled to lead off the frame, and three wild pitches later in the inning by Kent Hasler scored both runners and made the score 5-1, while Heath Renz held the Crushers off the board in relief of Stroud with five strikeouts of his own.
In the bottom of the ninth, Andrew Bernstein struck out the first batter he faced before Bryan De La Rosa reached on an infield hit. Bryan then hit into a fielder's choice for the second out, with the relay to first base sailing on Bryant Flete for an error and moving Bryan to second base. After an RBI single by James Davison, Jr. made it 5-2, a ground ball to third base by Steven Kraft was also thrown high to first base for an error by Alex Santana, and a walk to Burdick loaded the bases with still two outs in the inning.
Gabe Gentner came in to face Jake Vieth, and the Lake Erie first baseman hit a double to right field to score two runs. Burdick also tried to score from first base to tie the game, but Brett Siddall's throw into the infield found Lohr, whose relay to Arturo Nieto at the plate was perfect to nab a sliding Burdick and end the game.
The win improved the Miners to 14-11 on the season and clinched their first series win of the year. They will seek a sweep of the Crushers on Sunday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. at Sprenger Stadium before heading back home, as Cody Thompson takes the hill against Lake Erie's Dylan Mouzakes.
The Southern Illinois Miners are the Frontier League's most-successful 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.southernillinoisminers.com.