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MARION — A three-hit performance by Steven Ridings and a clutch two-out seventh inning double by Romeo Cortina led the Southern Illinois Miners to a 2-0 win over the Evansville Otters in the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader.

However, the Miners dropped the nightcap 3-2.

Ridings was nothing short of brilliant in picking up his eighth win.

The 6-foot-4 righthander buzzed through the first two innings on just 14 pitches. He needed just 74 pitches, 55 of which were strikes, to breeze through seven innings. Ridings sat the Otters down in order in the first, second, third, fifth, and seventh innings, retiring the first 10 hitters.

Ridings found himself in a pressure situation just once.

Back-to-back singles by J.J. Gould and David Cronin resulted in the Otters putting runners on the corners with one out. Ridings wriggled free by striking out Ray Long and then getting Travis Harrison to ground out.

Unfortunately for the Miners, Evansville’s Tyler Beardsley matched Ridings pitch for pitch through five innings.

Southern Illinois finally broke through in the sixth when Kyle Davis poked a one out single up the middle. Nolan Earley followed with a base hit before Chance Shepard walked to load the bases.

Evansville brought in southpaw Jake Davis to face the left-handed hitting Kurt Wertz Jr. The strategy worked … momentarily. Wertz went down swinging, bringing up the right-handed swinging Cortina.

Cortina sent the ball into the left field corner, chasing Davis and Earley home. Shepard was tagged out on a bang-bang play at the plate.

Ridings nailed down the win in style, retiring the Otters in order in the seventh.

The Miners finished with five hits, two by Earley. Cortina’s double was the only extra base hit of the game for either team.

In the second game, the Miners squandered a 2-0 lead before losing 3-2.

Southern Illinois scored single runs in the third and fourth innings. Jake Willsey led off the third with a double and eventually scored on Joe Duncan’s bloop single. The lead grew to 2-0 the following inning when Cortina bunted for a base hit, swiped second, and scored on Harrison Bragg’s single.

That lead appeared to be safe as Kurt Heyer limited the Otters to just three hits over the first five innings. However, things unraveled in the sixth.

Heyer issued a one-out walk to J.J. Gould before Taylor Hillson blooped a single into no-man’s land in right field. David Cronin followed with a ground ball up the middle. Max Dutto fielded the ball and flipped to second base for a putout, but the throw to first was too late for the double play.

Gould never quit running and scored from first.

Ryan Long made the Miners pay for not turning the double play, belting the ball over the right field fence. That proved to be the deciding run.

The Miners did get a pair of runners on base in the sixth but couldn’t generate a run.

Southern Illinois now hits the road for a three-game series at Gateway and three at River City.

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On Twitter: @LesWinkeler​


Sports editor

Les Winkeler is sports editor and outdoors writer for The Southern Illinoisan.

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