The Southern Illinois Miners came back late in their home opener on Friday night against the Windy City ThunderBolts, using RBI singles from rookie infielder Cletis Avery to first tie the score in the eighth inning, then win it in the bottom of the 11th inning by a final score of 3-2 at Rent One Park.
The game featured outstanding pitching from both teams, with the 'Bolts' Tyler Thornton shutting the Miners out over the first six innings, and Steven Ridings pitching a career-high eight strong frames for Southern Illinois on just 92 pitches. It was Ridings that blinked first, as after a one-out, third-inning single by Shane Carrier, Brynn Martinez hit a two-run home run to right field which made the score 2-0.
Southern Illinois' offense could not solve Thornton or Connor Mayes, who pitched the seventh inning, and they were down 2-0 entering the bottom of the eighth when they started their game-tying rally. Brett Siddall led off with a walk, and after being replaced at first base by Stephen Lohr on a fielder's choice, reliever Blake Hickman walked Chris Iriart. Lohr then went to third base on Andy Cosgrove's fly ball to right field, and came home when Anthony Brocato singled up the middle to put the Miners on the board and make the score 2-1 Windy City.
Dylan Prohoroff then came in to pitch for the ThunderBolts, and Kyle Davis greeted him with a walk to load the bases. Avery was then called upon to pinch-hit off the bench, and he responded with an RBI infield single to second base, tying the game at 2-2 after eight frames.
Neither team would score again until the 11th inning. In the top half, with the International Tiebreaker in effect, putting Martinez on at second base to start the inning, Kelvin Rodriguez got pinch-hitter Randy Perez to ground out to third base and struck out Patrick Mathis swinging. Gabe Gentner (2-0) then struck out Tyler Alamo to send the game to the bottom half of the inning still tied 2-2. With Cosgrove as the automatic runner at second base, Brocato and Davis both walked against Justin Miller (0-1), and set up Avery, who singled to center field to win the game for the Miners.
The RBI singles by Avery in the eighth and eleventh frames were his first two professional hits and runs batted in, as he finished 2-for-2 in the contest. Brocato continued his hot start to the season by going 2-for-4 with an RBI, and Lohr, Iriart and Cosgrove all scored one run apiece as the Miners won their home opener for the eighth consecutive year and improved to 3-4 on the season.
The Miners will go for the series win against a familiar face on Saturday night at 6:05 p.m. Austin Dubsky will pitch for Southern Illinois against former Miners southpaw Chris Washington at Rent One Park.
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.