The Southern Illinois Miners got seven outstanding innings from ace right-hander Chase Cunningham on Tuesday night against the Evansville Otters as they shut out the visitors 2-0 at Rent One Park in Marion to secure the series opener.
Cunningham (4-3) worked around leadoff base runners in the first and second innings before settling in, as he allowed just four hits and one walk over his seven innings of work, striking out seven to hold down the Evansville offense. The Miners supported him with an early run as well in the bottom of the second inning, as Jared Mang worked a two-out walk against Otters starter Braden Scott (5-3) before Arturo Nieto doubled to right-center field, making the score 1-0 Southern Illinois.
That was all that the Miners needed, though they would add valuable insurance in the bottom of the seventh when, with Mang at second base, Bryant Flete's ground ball to second baseman J.R. Davis was booted for an error, allowing Southern Illinois' second run to score and make it 2-0.
After Cunningham departed, Blake Stelzer pitched a 1-2-3, scoreless eighth with two strikeouts, and Joey Pulido worked around a one-out walk in the top of the ninth for his fifth save of the season, with Riley Krane flying out to right field representing the tying run to end the game.
With the victory, the Miners closed to within five and one-half games of the Otters in the West Division standings entering play tomorrow, and earned their ninth shutout victory of the season as a team. The win on the mound was the 38th of Cunningham's decorated Frontier League career, tying him for second place all-time with league hall-of-famer Scott Dunn. He also moved into eighth place in Frontier League history in career strikeouts as part of the stellar performance.
The Miners will look to make it back-to-back wins against the Otters in the middle game of the midweek series on Wednesday, August 18, at 7:05 p.m., with Gunnar Kines making the start for Southern Illinois against Evansville's Polo Portela.
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. In addition, they have sent 60 players to MLB organizations in their 14 years of operation. For ticket information, contact the box office at (618) 998-8499. For additional information, visit our website at www.southernillinoisminers.com.