The Southern Illinois Miners split a doubleheader on Thursday night against the Evansville Otters, winning 2-0 in game one behind a late rally in backing a complete-game shutout by Steven Ridings before dropping the second contest 3-2 at Rent One Park.
In the first game, Ridings (8-5) and the Otters' Tyler Beardsley were nearly flawless, matching each other with five shutout innings on the scoreboard and no batters reaching second base safely. Ridings retired the first 10 batters that he faced, and the Otters nearly broke through in the top of the sixth inning, getting men on first and third base with one out. Ridings bore down, however, and kept the game a scoreless draw, allowing the Miners to bust through with the only runs of the game in the bottom of the sixth.
With one out, Kyle Davis and Nolan Earley singled and Chance Shepard walked, loading the bases and forcing an Otters pitching change. After Jake Davis struck out Kurt Wertz, Jr. for out number two, Romeo Cortina came up big with a go-ahead, two-run double down the left field line to make it 2-0. Ridings then finished what he started, holding the Otters to three hits and no walks along with five strikeouts in the victory.
In the second game, the Miners jumped out to an early lead in the bottom of the third inning- Jake Willsey led off with a double, and after a sacrifice bunt moved him to third, Joe Duncan's RBI single to center scored him and made it 1-0. With two outs in the following inning, Cortina reached on a bunt single and stole second base before Harrison Bragg doubled the Miners' lead to 2-0 with an RBI single of his own.
But the Otters came back in the top of the fifth- after Kurt Heyer (6-6) had struck out five over four shutout innings, a one-out walk to J.J. Gould followed by a single put runners at first and second base. David Cronin hit into a fielder's choice to shortstop with the out made at second base, and after the attempt at a double play on the turn to first base was late, Gould hustled home and scored to make it 2-1. One pitch later, Ryan Long's two-run home run to right field put Evansville ahead to stay at 3-2, as the Miners were unable to mount a comeback in the late frames in settling for the doubleheader split as well as a two-games-to-one series win.
Southern Illinois next heads on the road to face the Gateway Grizzlies in a three-game series beginning at 7:05 p.m. on Friday, August 10th. Aaron Rozek will pitch in the series opener for the Miners against Gateway's Mike Elwood at GCS Credit Union Ballpark in Sauget.
The Southern Illinois Miners are the Frontier League's winningest 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.siminers.com.