The Southern Illinois Miners got a dominant start on the mound from right-hander Chase Cunningham, who threw seven innings of two-run ball to lead his new team over his former team in the Washington Wild Things by a final score of 3-2 at Rent One Park on Wednesday night.
Cunningham (4-2) was in command from the beginning of the game, his first start against Washington after pitching there for the last three seasons. The Wild Things got just two singles and one walk off of him in the first six innings of the game, during which the Miners built up a three-run lead. Arturo Nieto began the scoring by leading off the third inning with a solo home run off Washington starter A.J. Bogucki (0-1), his first in a Miners uniform, to make it 1-0.
Then, in the fifth, Nieto led off with a single, and after Bryant Flete singled to move him to third base, Gianfranco Wawoe knocked an RBI single into left field to make it 2-0. Stephen Lohr then singled to left field as well, with a throwing error on Cameron Baranek allowing Flete to score and make it a 3-0 lead for Southern Illinois.
Washington trailed by that 3-0 margin until the seventh inning, when after Hector Roa singled, Mikael Mogues hit a two-run home run two batters later to slice the Miners' lead to one run. But the visitors got no closer- after Cunningham finished the frame, Andrew Bernstein and Jordan Brink capped the win with two scoreless relief innings and five total strikeouts, with Brink notching his third save of the year by striking out the side.
Flete enjoyed his second-straight three-hit night for the Miners, while Nieto finished 2-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI. Cunningham allowed just two runs on four hits with one walk and nine strikeouts, with the latter total tying his career-high in what became his fourth-straight win on the mound for the Miners.
With the victory, coupled by losses by Evansville and River City earlier in the day, Southern Illinois also elevated themselves to second place in the Frontier League's West Division standings, and clinched the home series over the Wild Things while improving their overall record to 16-12. They will go for the three-game sweep of Washington on Thursday night at 6:35 p.m., with Austin Dubsky taking the ball for the Miners against the Wild Things' Michael Austin.
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.