The Southern Illinois Miners shut out the Evansville Otters for the second night in a row on Wednesday at Rent One Park, with Gunnar Kines and five relievers combining for a 3-0 victory in Marion.
The game was another pitcher's duel, but with both starters having to work around several base runners in the game. Kines (3-3) tossed 20 or more pitches in each of the first three innings, and walked four in that span, but held the Otters off the board. That included a jam in the top of the third inning when Evansville had runners at first and third base with no outs, as the veteran left-hander stranded the bases loaded in the frame.
Polo Portela (7-2) also stranded runners on base in three of the first four innings he pitched, but the Miners got to him in the fifth. Ian Walters and Arturo Nieto both drew walks on the ninth pitches of their at-bats in the inning, and with two outs and the runners at first and second base, Bryant Flete grounded an RBI single into right field to make it 1-0 Southern Illinois.
Beginning in the top of the sixth, the Miners would then allow the Otters to get the tying run on base in three straight innings, but Kines and a quartet of relievers would combine to prevent Evansville from plating that run. Kines departed after a leadoff single in the sixth, and after Zach Lauzon walked the first batter he faced, he got the first two outs of the frame, with Kenny Pierson getting Dakota Phillips to fly out to keep the one-run lead and end the inning.
Kaleb Schmidt and Augie Voight would then work around walks in the seventh and eighth innings, respectively, and Southern Illinois would add valuable insurance in the bottom of the eighth. Cody Erickson worked a walk with one out against reliever Joe Riley, and went to third when Walters drove an automatic double to right-center field. Jared Mang then came up clutch with a two-run single to right-center, extending the Miners' lead to 3-0.
Stevie Ledesma came in for the ninth, and retired all three batters he faced to nail down the save as Southern Illinois completed their second straight shutout of the Otters, allowing just two hits in the game. With the victory, the Miners stand 4.5 games behind Evansville in the West Division standings, and have a chance to gain another game tomorrow night, Thursday, August 19, at Rent One Park.
First pitch of the series finale between the two clubs is set for 7:05 p.m. in Marion, with Zac Westcott taking the mound for Southern Illinois as they go for the series sweep. Ryan O'Reilly will pitch opposite him for Evansville.
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.