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Miners split four-game series against Freedom

  • The Miners celebrate Friday's walkoff win over the Freedom after Harrison Bragg's RBI single in the 11th inning.

    The Miners celebrate Friday's walkoff win over the Freedom after Harrison Bragg's RBI single in the 11th inning.
    All photos by Justin Walker






































 
updated: 7/31/2018 1:35 AM

MARION -- The Southern Illinois Miners scored two runs in the second inning and added three more in the third to back a strong pitching performance by Steven Ridings in a 5-1 victory over the Florence Freedom on Sunday night, securing a split of the four-game series at Rent One Park.

The Miners are now 31-32 and within range of first-place Normal in the Frontier League's West Division standings. Normal has won five in a row. In between are River City (34-32) and Florence (33-33).

After neither side scored in the first inning, a leadoff error on Austin Wobrock allowed Luke Bonfield to reach base, and Kurt Wertz Jr. followed with a double to put runners at second and third base. Max Dutto reached on an RBI infield hit that scored Bonfield and Joe Duncan hit a sacrifice fly to right field to double the lead to 2-0.

Keivan Berges led off the top of the third inning with a solo home run off of Ridings (7-4) to slice the lead in half, but Southern Illinois responded in the bottom half and took control of the contest.

Joe Dudek led off with a single, and after two flyouts, Jake Willsey doubled to move Dudek to third base and Dutto was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Duncan then hit a grounder up the middle that turned into an infield single and brought Dudek home to make it 3-1, and Kyle Davis followed with a liner toward Wobrock at shortstop that kicked off his glove and into the outfield- a two-run single that pushed the Miners' advantage to 5-1.

That was all Ridings needed, as the right-hander pitched 5-2/3 innings, scattering seven hits and two walks with two strikeouts to earn the victory, permitting just one run. Kody Rock and James Carter also combined for perfect relief as the Freedom did not record a baserunner after Ridings departed the contest.

On Saturday, the Freedom swept a doubleheader with scores of 2-1 and 1-0, spoiling strong starts from Michael Starcevich and Patrick Duester.

Starcevich got things started in game one, his first start as a pro, and the rookie turned in five shutout innings with no walks and six strikeouts to set a career-high. Southern Illinois gave him a 1-0 lead on a two-out RBI single by Jake Willsey in the third inning, but could not hold it, as a leadoff hit batter in the sixth led to the tying run scoring on a sacrifice fly by Jimmy Heck, making the score 1-1.

In the seventh inning, the Freedom jumped on top when Skylar Ewing hit a solo home run off of John Werner (1-1) for a 2-1 lead, which ended up standing as the final score.

In game two, Duester took the baton from Starcevich and also tossed five shutout innings, holding the Freedom to two hits and one walk over his first professional start. The Miners, however, were held to just one hit by rookie left-hander Mike Castellani (1-0), and the Freedom scored the only run of the game without the aid of a hit in the top of the seventh inning.

A pair of walks by Kyle Tinius and one by Zach Hartman loaded the bases with one out, and Jacob Wark's sacrifice fly made it 1-0 with Jordan Brower scoring just ahead of a throw from left fielder Bonfield.

The Miners finished a sweep of River City with a 3-2 win on Thursday in front of a nice crowd on Stand Up For Blue Night. Max Dutto's two-run homer in the fourth inning proved to be the difference and made a winner of Geno Encina.

On Friday, the Miners extended their win streak to four with a 4-3 walkoff win over the Freedom in 11 innings to open that four-game weekend series. Harrison Bragg drove in the winning run to end a wild game that featured the ejections of Dutto and Miners manager Mike Pinto.

Ben Moore was also injured in the game after hitting a double. His replacement, Kyle Davis, scored and later hit a huge two-run double to give the Miners their first lead.

After two days off, the Miners return to action when they host the Traverse City Beach Bums in a doubleheader beginning at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday night.