The Southern Illinois Miners got a team-wide effort on offense, compiling 12 hits and eight runs on Friday night against the Lake Erie Crushers while starter Kurt Heyer tossed an eight-inning gem with a career-best nine strikeouts in an 8-2 victory at Sprenger Stadium, breaking a four-game losing streak.
After the first three innings went by without a run on the board, Joe Dudek changed that with one swing leading off the fourth against Lake Erie starter Oriel Caicedo (0-1), blasting his eighth homer of the season, a solo shot, to put the Miners in the lead 1-0. Later in the inning, with two outs, Joe Duncan knocked an RBI single into center field to double the advantage to 2-0.
The score remained 2-0 until the seventh, when Southern Illinois batted around to score four runs and pull away. Romeo Cortina led off with a walk and Nolan Earley doubled (one of three he would have on the night to tie a single-game team record) to put runners at second and third base with no one out. Two batters later, a wild pitch plated a run to make it 3-0, and after a walk by Kyle Davis, Dudek came up big again with a two-run double off the center field wall to push the advantage out to 5-0. Later in the frame, Jake Willsey singled into center field to score Dudek, picking up his first professional hit in his debut as well as his first RBI to make it a 6-0 ballgame.
Heyer (5-5) took it from there, as the right-hander dominated on the mound in holding the Crushers to just one run on six hits and two walks, fanning nine to set a new career-best. The lone run the Crushers got against him came in the eighth on a sacrifice fly by Dalton Wheat after a leadoff triple by Brian De La Rosa, and the Miners responded with two of their own in the ninth on a sacrifice fly by Willsey and a balk by reliever Kent Hasler to make the score 8-1. Lake Erie also got a run on a solo homer by Doug Trimble in the bottom of the ninth, but got no closer as the Miners took the series opener.
Earley finished 4-for-5 with three doubles, tying a career-high in hits, while Duncan went 3-for-6 with a double in the leadoff spot. Dudek also went 2-for-5 with a double, homer and three RBIs to tie a season-high, while Willsey ended up 1-for-3 with a walk, run scored and two RBIs in his professional debut.
The Miners will look to make it back-to-back wins and take the series on Saturday night at Sprenger Stadium, with first pitch scheduled for 5:05 p.m.
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 www.siminers.com.