MARION — Woulda, coulda, shoulda.
The Southern Illinois Miners stranded nine runners, including four at third base, in a 4-1 loss on Tuesday night to the Joliet Slammers. The loss was just the second of the season for Bobby Rowland, who entered the game with a 4-1 mark and a 2.25 ERA.
“We had a lot of guys, as I say sometimes, we left a small Italian village on base tonight,” said manager Mike Pinto. “Unfortunately, your offense isn’t always going to work on all cylinders. We needed to move runners over in a couple situations and we didn’t. We needed to get runners in from third and we couldn’t seem to get the big hit at the big time.
Rowland struggled early in the game, yielding single runs in the first and second innings. The right hander then settled in and didn’t allow another base hit before giving way to Nathan Antone in the seventh.
Rowland yielded just four hits while striking out five.
“I thought Robby threw a great game,” said Pinto. “When your starter gives you seven innings and allows two, you know what, you should have a chance. I thought he threw really well and there were times he really amped it up and threw great pitches, but we couldn’t seem to find a way to put a barrel on the ball enough tonight.”
Former Miner Landon Lindley helped the Slammers get on the board in the first inning. He reached on an infield single, stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch before scoring on Lee-Jun Kalawaia’s sacrifice fly.
The Slammers added the on the only other run they needed in the second inning. Trenton Hill slammed a one-out double just inside the first base bag before scoring on Trey Fulton’s base hit.
Joliet was efficient offensively, producing four runs on just seven hits.
In the meantime, the Miners got their run in the first inning.
“They had a couple opportunities, they got runs when they needed them,” Pinto said. “I thought we got a little big with our swings today instead of just getting the job done. Tomorrow is another day and Kurt Heyer will have the ball tomorrow.”
Joe Duncan, a Highland native, made his professional debut with an infield hit leading off the game. After moving up a base on a passed ball, Duncan scored on the first of two hits by Romeo Cortina.
That proved to be the last time the Miners got a hit with runners in scoring position.
Southern Illinois stranded a pair of runners in the first and third innings and left the bases loaded in the fifth. Four times, in the third, fifth, sixth and seventh the Miners ended the inning with a runner on third base.
Slammers starter Liam Sullivan entered the game with a 1-2 mark and a bloated 6.83 ERA, but he always made the big pitch when he needed it. Sullivan struck out six in his seven-inning stint.
Game two of the series is at 7:05 p.m. tonight.