The Southern Illinois Miners had a 4-0 lead on Saturday night at Standard Bank Stadium, but surrendered that lead as the Windy City ThunderBolts plated nine unanswered runs, including seven in the bottom of the sixth, to send the Miners to a 9-5 loss, their second in a row to clinch the series defeat.
In the first inning, with one out, Kyle Davis walked and Nolan Earley pummeled a two-run home run to right-center field to put the Miners up 2-0. Chance Shepard then singled to set up Kurt Wertz, Jr., who also blasted a two-run shot to left-center field as the Miners had the lead at 4-0 after one inning.
But the ThunderBolts got back in it as the game went along. Joe Becht's two-out, RBI bloop single into center field off starter Michael Starcevich put Windy City on the board and made it 4-1 in the second inning, and two innings later, Becht came up with two outs and hit a solo home run to straightaway center field to make it a 4-2 ballgame.
The ThunderBolts threatened in the fifth, getting the tying runs on base, and Patrick Duester came in from the bullpen and struck out Larry Balkwill swinging to preserve the lead that frame. But Duester (2-2) and the Miners could not do the same in the sixth inning, as Omar Obregon tied the score with two men on base on a double to right field at 4-4. Two batters later, against Kody Rock, Axel Johnson's two-out single to right field gave Windy City the lead for good at 5-4, added on to later in the frame on a two-run double by Blair Beck and a two-run home run by Balkwill to push the lead out to 9-4 as the ThunderBolts plated seven runs in the frame total.
Wertz went yard for the second time in the contest in the top of the eighth inning, a solo shot that cut the Miners' deficit to 9-5, but that was as close as Southern Illinois got the rest of the way, as Windy City starter Zac Westcott (6-7) finished one out shy of completing the game himself, striking out 10 over eight and two-thirds innings as Southern Illinois dropped the series by losing the first two games.
Joe Duncan finished 3-for-5 with a double while Wertz ended up 2-for-4 with three RBIs, but it was not enough. Southern Illinois will try and avoid a sweep on Sunday afternoon at 2:05 p.m., sending a starter to be named against Windy City's Connor Bach.
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.