The Southern Illinois Miners lost the middle game of their series against Evansville at home in heartbreaking fashion, watching a 4-2 lead slip away with two outs in the seventh inning in a 6-4 loss, dropping them to 3.5 games back in the West Division standings while snapping a nine-game home win streak.
Southern Illinois scored first when Ariel Sandoval drew a two-out walk off Austin Gossmann in the bottom of the first inning, stole second base, and came home to score on an RBI single by Jamey Smart that made it 1-0 Southern Illiniois. The Otters would use a leadoff error in the top of the second to aid in loading the bases in the next half inning, tying the game on Elijah MacNamee's groundout to shortstop at 1-1 on an unearned run. They would use an RBI infield single in the next half inning by Jeffery Baez to make the score 2-1 against Chase Cunningham, but the Miners' ace minimized the damage, striking out seven batters over six innings to get to 400 for his decorated Frontier League career and keep the Miners in the game.
Southern Illinois would reward Cunningham when Smart kicked off a rally in the bottom of the sixth inning with a single. Jared Mang then singled and Ian Walters walked to load the bases with one out. Anthony Brocato followed by drawing a walk to force in the tying run and make it 2-2. Arturo Nieto then hit a ground ball to third base, with the Otters' Gary Mattis stepping on third for one out, then committing a throwing error while trying to throw home for another out, scoring Mang to give the Miners a 3-2 lead. Brocato went to third base on that play, and would score on a wild pitch by Tyler Spring (6-0) to make it 4-2 Miners heading into the seventh inning.
In the seventh, Blake Stelzer (4-2) came in and retired the first two batters he faced in the inning, but would not make it out of the frame. Josh Allen walked, and came home on a Baez RBI triple to make it 4-3. Riley Krane then hit a sinking fly ball to center field that dropped out of the reach of a diving Mang and rolled to the center field wall for an inside-the-park, go-ahead home run, vaulting the Otters in front 5-4.
Southern Illinois would get the tying run on base in all of their final three turns at-bat, including in the bottom of the ninth after another error in the top half led to another unearned run and made the score 6-4, but it was not enough as the Miners saw their deficit in the West Division grow back to 3.5 games with the series-evening defeat.
The Miners will look to bounce back in a crucial rubber game against the Otters on Thursday, September 2, with first pitch at Rent One Park slated for 7:05 p.m.
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.