MARION – The Southern Illinois Miners fought back from two early one-run deficits on Sunday night against the Gateway Grizzlies, rallying for a 5-2 win to salvage the finale of the first half of the season and the weekend series at Rent One Park, improving to 27-23 entering the all-star break.
Gateway scored a run in the first inning for the third time this series on an RBI single by Luis Roman, but Tyson Cronin minimized the damage, and the Miners were able to tie the score on Gianfranco Wawoe’s sacrifice fly in the bottom half of the inning. In the fourth, Gateway again grabbed a one-run lead on an RBI single by Zak Taylor at 2-1, but one inning later, Cletis Avery came up big with an RBI double to tie the score again at 2-2 after five innings. The Miners would strand two in scoring position that frame, but would take the lead for good in the sixth inning against Grizzlies starter Dominic Topoozian (4-3) after Jake Godfrey (1-0) pitched the club out of a jam in the top of the inning.
Wawoe led off in the bottom of the sixth with a double, and Kyle Davis followed by putting the Miners ahead 3-2 with an RBI triple to right-center field. After Grant Black came in from the bullpen two batters later with one out, Andy Cosgrove added an RBI single to push the lead to 4-2. From there, the Miners got solid relief pitching to hold the lead, with Benjamin Dum working a scoreless seventh inning, and Chase Cunningham tossing a scoreless eighth in his first-ever professional relief appearance.
After the Miners scored an insurance run on a fielder’s choice by Anthony Jimenez in the eighth to make the score 5-2, Jordan Brink nailed down his fourth save of the year with a scoreless ninth. The Miners won their final contest heading into the all-star break for the first time since 2015. Eight of the nine Miners players in the lineup had at least one hit in a balanced, 11-hit offensive attack, with two-hit days from Davis, Cosgrove and Avery. Davis also scored twice as the Miners avoided the sweep.
After Wawoe, Cosgrove and Cunningham represent the team at the 2019 Can-Am League vs Frontier League All-Star Game in Pomona, New York on Wednesday, Southern Illinois will return to action at Rent One Park on Friday to kick off the second half of their 2019 season against the reigning champion Joliet Slammers. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.