At the midway point of the season, the Southern Illinois Miners currently own a 27-23 record in the Frontier League. The Miners sit at third place in the West Division, and share the same record as the River City Rascals out of O’Fallon, Missouri.
The Miners trail the second-place Evansville Otters by one game, but still have some ground to make up, as the Florence Freedom sit seven games ahead of them in first place.
The Miners hit the middle mark of their 2019 season at the same time MLB teams head into the all-star break. The Miners will get four days of rest before they open up a three-game series against the Joliet Slammers on Friday.
“We really haven’t been able to stay healthy the first half of the season, and that’s been a struggle for us missing guys we had a lot of high expectations for,” said Miners coach Mike Pinto. “Our guys have grinded through the difficult first half of the season, but hopefully we can get some of those guys back here soon.”
The West Division is tough this year. The Miners 27 wins would be good enough to put them on top of the Eastern Division, as the Lake Erie Crushers lead the East with a 25-23 record.
The Miners were able to win their last game against the Gateway Grizzlies on Sunday 5-2 in order to snap a three-game losing streak. The Miners opened up the season by dropping the first three games, but have found a method to stay above .500.
The Miners have gone 4-6 over their previous 10 games. They haven’t had any issues playing at home this season with a 14-6 record. But playing away from Rent One Park there's some room for improvement, with a road record of 13-17.
“Our only expectations for ourselves have been internal and playing the best to our availability,” said Pinto. “We’ve had some guys get moved up to the major leagues and now it’s just finding players to fill those spots and we’ve got some guys with experience coming in.”
The Miners offense has been led by infielder Bryant Flete. Flete currently leads the league with a .360 batting average. Flete shines in his ability to get on base, as he leads the Miners with 54 hits.
Fellow infielder Gianfranco Wawoe sits one hit behind Flete with 53 to his credit. Wawoe leads the Miners with 30 hits and is second on the team with seven home runs this season. Wawoe trails Kyle Davis, who has launched eight homers for the Miners.
On the mound Chase Cunningham has logged 73 innings for the Miners. The next closest on the team is Austin Dubsky with 45.2 innings pitched. Cunningham (11), Dubsky (9), and Marty Anderson (8) round out the top of the Miners rotation in games started.
Cunningham has posted a 2.96 ERA with a 6-2 record and a team-high 72 strikeouts. Cunningham has one complete game under his belt this season. The 25-year-old is coming off a hot month in June where he recorded five straight victories.
Anderson leads the Miners with a 2.89 ERA, but is third on the team in innings pitched. Dubsky has struggled so far this season posting a 6.50 ERA with a 4-3 record. But if Anderson continues his production, and Dubsky can turn things around in the second half of the season, having both those guys pitching well behind Cunningham would be lethal.
“We need to get healthy and get more consistent starting position in the second half,” said Pinto. “If our starters can get through five or six innings, our bullpen can do a good enough job to close out games. We also need to do a better job driving in runners from third base with two outs.
“We’ve had a tough schedule so far this year playing 30 of our 48 games on the road so far, but those are out of the way and the schedule luckily favors us both home and away for the rest of the season.”