The Southern Illinois Miners kept up their recent winning ways, taking their sixth straight victory and eighth in their last nine games overall by beating the Windy City ThunderBolts 3-2 at Ozinga Field in Crestwood, Illinois.
The game was dominated by the starting pitchers, as Chase Cunningham threw his seventh straight start of six innings or longer and three earned runs or fewer on the mound for Southern Illinois while former Miner Chris Washington pitched into the eighth inning and also allowed just three runs.
The Miners led wire-to-wire, however, and jumped on Washington (1-4) for all of their runs in the first two innings. Reigning Frontier League Player of the Week Bryant Flete led off the game with a single, extending his hitting streak to eighth in a row, and Anthony Jimenez and Gianfranco Wawoe also followed with singles of their own, with Wawoe extending a personal hit streak to six in a row and picking up his team-best eighteenth RBI of the year for a 1-0 Miners lead.
After Stephen Lohr's RBI groundout made it 2-0 after the first inning, Jarrod Watkins led off the second inning with a double and scored two batters later on Joe Duncan's RBI double to increase the lead to 3-0. That was all Cunningham (5-2) needed to win his fifth consecutive start on the mound, pitching seven innings and allowing just one run on six hits with one walk and eight strikeouts. The lone run he allowed came in the sixth inning on a solo home run by Shane Carrier as the right-hander improved to 7-0 in seven career starts at Ozinga Field.
The ThunderBolts threatened against the Miners' bullpen in the late innings- they put the tying runs on base leading off the eighth against Jordan Brink, but could not score as the reliever struck out three in a row. They were also able to plate a run against Gabe Gentner in the ninth on a two-out single by Brynn Martinez and a subsequent RBI double by Tyler Straub, pulling Windy City within a run at 3-2. But Gentner struck out Manuel Mesa swinging to close out the game, recording his fifth save in the process as the Miners took the series opener.
Now in a tie for first place in the Frontier League's West Division standings, Southern Illinois will look to clinch the series and run their win streak to seven in a row in the middle game of the series on Wednesday, June 19, at 6:05 p.m. Marty Anderson will pitch for the Miners against fellow Windy City left-hander Kenny Mathews.
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.