The Southern Illinois Miners were swept in walk-off fashion in both halves of a doubleheader by the Florence Freedom by final scores of 10-9 in 11 innings and 3-2 in seven innings on Tuesday night at UC Health Stadium.
Florence built a 5-0 lead in the first contest against Tyson Cronin, and the Miners were no-hit for the first six innings by the Freedom pitching staff before the game was turned on its head in the top of the seventh inning. Jamey Smart broke up the no-hitter with a single to center field, and after two more batters reached to load the bases, Jarrod Watkins followed with an infield single to make the score 5-1. After a pitching change, Cletis Avery then took the first pitch he saw over the right-center field fence for a grand slam home run, tying the game at 5-5.
Jake Godfrey tossed a pair of scoreless innings in relief to help send the game to the International Tiebreaker in the ninth inning, and Southern Illinois struck with the bases loaded and two outs on a two-run single by Stephen Lohr, taking a 7-5 lead into the bottom half. But Florence tied the score when Caleb Lopes homered off of Gabe Gentner, sending the game further into extra innings. A sacrifice fly by Andy Cosgrove and a sacrifice fly by Anthony Jimenez put the Miners ahead by a single run in the tenth and eleventh innings, but both times the Freedom would again tie the score. In the eleventh, after Florence had tied it, Lopes came up again and won the game with a walk-off single as the Miners dropped the heartbreaker.
In game two, it was the Miners scoring first, as Smart lined a two-out RBI single into left field for a 1-0 lead, but yet again Florence responded on a two-out RBI single by Ricky Ramirez, Jr. to make it 1-1 after one inning. Greg Marino would pitch into the fifth for the Miners and tie his career-high with five strikeouts, surrendering an unearned run in the third inning to make the score 2-1 Freedom, but allowing no more runs to come across.
In the sixth inning, Jimenez singled and went to second on an error before Kyle Davis tied the game at 2-2 with an automatic double to left-center field. After a scoreless inning from Cody Thompson in the sixth, however, a leadoff walk in the bottom of the seventh followed by two straight errors loaded the bases, and with one out, Tyler Reichenborn was hit by a pitch, ending the game.
Southern Illinois will again look to bounce back on Wednesday night at 5:35 p.m., with Chase Cunningham pitching for the Miners against Florence left-hander Scott Sebald.
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.