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Encina Dominates, Miners Come Back to Sweep Gateway

August 12, 2018 - Frontier League (FL) - Southern Illinois Miners News Release

Sauget, IL - The Southern Illinois Miners fell behind early against the Gateway Grizzlies on Sunday night, but thanks to a stellar start from Geno Encina that included 14 strikeouts to tie a team record, and a clutch, go-ahead hit late from Nolan Earley, they came back for a 4-1 victory to sweep the weekend series at GCS Credit Union Ballpark.

It was Gateway that struck first in the game, as Audie Afenir's two-out, RBI single to right field scored Shane Mardirosian and made it 1-0 Grizzlies in the first inning. But following that single, Encina (4-6) went to work, striking out the next seven batters that he faced in the game. Gateway tried to extend their lead in the middle frames, and loaded the bases in the fifth inning, but Encina bore down kept the game close.

After struggling through the first five frames, getting only two baserunners offensively off Grizzlies starter Alec Kisena, the Miners evened the score in the top of the sixth inning. Joe Duncan drew a one-out walk and stole second base, and with two outs in the frame, Chance Shepard bounced a ground ball to third baseman Artemis Kadkhodaian, whose low throw to first got away from Trae Santos, allowing Duncan to score the tying run and make it a 1-1 game.

Encina worked around a pair of baserunners, including a man at third base with one out, for a scoreless inning in the bottom of the sixth, and neither team scored in the seventh, setting up the Miners' game-winning rally in the eighth inning. Max Dutto led off with a walk against Patrick Boyle (2-3), and Kyle Davis singled two batters later. Shepard drew a walk to load the bases, bringing up Earley, who came up clutch with a bases-clearing, three-run double down the first base line, vaulting the Miners ahead by a 4-1 score.

That would be all Encina needed, as the right-hander pitched eight innings of one-run ball with two walks and 14 strikeouts in the game, shattering his previous season and career-high of nine and tying the Miners' all-time record for strikeouts in a single game by one pitcher. Zach Hartman then struck out the side in the ninth inning for the save, with the 17 total strikeouts as a team also tying a single-game Southern Illinois record as the Miners won for the fifth time in their last six games overall.

After a day off on Monday, the Miners will next head to O'Fallon, Missouri to tangle with the River City Rascals in a three-game series beginning on Tuesday, August 14th, at 6:35 p.m. Steven Ridings will pitch for Southern Illinois while Jonny Ortiz will throw for River City.

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

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