MARION -- The Southern Illinois Miners fell behind 2-0 in the first inning against the Florence Freedom on Sunday at Rent One Park, but did not allow any more runs in the game, with their offense coming back to win the contest 5-2 in the rubber match of the three-game weekend series.
Florence struck first on an RBI groundout by Andrew Godbold to make the score 1-0 in the top of the first inning, and later in the inning went up 2-0 on an RBI single by Jordan Brower.
Zach Cooper then had the first two Florence batters in the second inning reach base on a throwing error by Cooper himself and a walk, but the right-hander bore down from there and settled into a groove, retiring eight batters in a row spanning the second, third and fourth innings.
The Miners then got to work offensively in the bottom of the third inning against Braulio Torres-Perez (5-2), using a pair of Florence errors as well as an RBI single by Romeo Cortina to get on the board and make the score 2-1.
In the next inning, Ryan Lashley led off with a solo home run to left field, his team-leading 12th of the season, to tie the score at 2-2. In the fifth, the Miners would surge ahead and take the lead for good. London Lindley led off with a double and stole third base before Ryan Sluder knocked him in with a single to center field to give the Miners a 3-2 lead.
Lashley also reached on a fielder's choice later in the frame to plate Sluder from third base, beating the potential double-play relay throw to first base and extending the lead to 4-2.
Florence would attempt a two-out rally in the seventh inning by loading the bases with two outs, putting the tying run in scoring position, but Kyle Grana got Brower to pop out to the shortstop to get out of trouble, and the Miners then tacked on one more run in the bottom half of the frame. Lindley led off with a bunt single and was sacrificed to second base by Cortina before Sluder came up big again with an RBI double to right field, pushing the Miners' advantage out to 5-2 before the bullpen made it stand up in the late innings again as the Miners took the series.
Cooper (5-9) finished with another quality start, pitching six innings and scattering five hits and two runs with three walks and five strikeouts to get the win on the mound, while John Werner recorded his West Division-leading 19th save of the season with a scoreless ninth, putting him one behind the Miners' all-time single-season and career record of 20.
Offensively, Lindley went 2-for-2 and scored two runs, while Sluder and Lashley drove in two runs apiece as the Miners took down the first-place Freedom in back-to-back nights.
On Saturday, the Miners won 2-0 behind starter Matt Parish to snap a five-game losing skid. Parish pitched 6-2/3 innings and gave up four hits. Grana and Werner allowed only one baserunner between them in the seventh, eighth and ninth.
James Alfonso homered and Lashley hit an RBI single to provide the runs.
Florence jumped out to a 4-0 lead and won Friday's series opener, 4-3, after holding off the Miners' late push. Nolan Earley homered and Chris Washington posted a quality start in the loss.
The Miners next head to Sauget to face the Gateway Grizzlies in a three-game set beginning Tuesday at 7:05 p.m.