Big Comeback Falls Just Short in Miners Loss to Freedom
Florence, KY - The Southern Illinois Miners nearly made it all the way back from a nine-run deficit with just six outs to go on Friday night at UC Health Stadium in Florence, scoring four times in the ninth inning and bringing the tying run to the plate, but it was not enough as the Florence Freedom hung on for an 11-7 win, sending the visitors to their sixth straight defeat.
The Freedom grabbed the game's first run in the bottom of the first on an RBI groundout by Skylar Ewing off of Geno Encina, and that lead did not last long, as after Romeo Cortina was hit by a pitch and stole second base in the top of the second inning, Joe Dudek brought him in with an RBI single to make the score 1-1.
But the Freedom would use two multi-run homers to take the lead and stretch it out to 6-1, with Graylin Derke's two-run shot to right in the second inning making it 3-1, and Ricky Ramirez, Jr.'s three-run home run in the third inning making it a five-run deficit for the Miners. Kyle Davis broke a string of 13 straight batters retired by Florence starter Cody Gray (3-2) in the top of the sixth inning to cut the margin to 6-2, but Florence would score five more times in the bottom of the seventh, including a three-run homer by Ewing, to balloon the advantage out to 11-2.
Southern Illinois would rally to make a game of it late, as rookie outfielder D.J. Oliver knocked a pinch-hit, two-out RBI single to right field in the eighth (his first hit, at-bat and RBI as a pro after joining the team the same day) to make it 11-3 Florence, and then in the ninth, the first five batters of the inning reached safely to plate three more runs. Kurt Wertz, Jr. contributed with a pinch-hit, bases-loaded single to make the score 11-4, and Dudek followed with a two-run single of his own to slice the Florence lead down to 11-6.
They were not done there. Three batters later, with one out and the bases loaded after a Florence pitching change, Marc DiLeo pinch-hit and drew a walk to make it 11-7 and get the tying run to the plate. But the big rally would be cut short, as Oliver struck out and Davis flied out to end the contest.
Dudek finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs, while Davis had a 2-for-5 night with a home run, two runs scored and one RBI, but the Miners were out-hit 15 to nine in the contest, dropping to the .500 mark on the season at 24-24 in the series opener. The Miners will look to even the series on Saturday night at UC Health Stadium, with Steven Ridings taking the mound opposite former Miner Steve Hagen at 6:05 p.m.
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.
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