(Courtesy Southern Illinois Miners; Photo Credit: Jonathan LeBlond)
The Southern Illinois Miners saw the Florence Freedom tie the game on a solo home run in the ninth before rallying in the 12th inning to win by a 4-3 final score on a walk-off walk by Niko Vasquez with the bases loaded.
The winning rally started in memorable fashion, as pitcher Britt Robertshaw was forced to bat for himself to lead off the 12th thanks to substitutions made earlier in the game that included bringing Vasquez, who started the game at designated hitter, into the field at third base. Robertshaw singled to right for his first professional hit in his first professional at-bat. He would be on base for a short time, as two consecutive fielder’s choice plays put Tyler Booth on first with two outs.
The patience of the Miners then came into play, as Marquis Riley and Ryan Cavan both drew four-pitch walks off Florence reliever Daniel DeSimone (3-3) to load the bases. After taking a called strike, Vasquez then drew four balls to send the Miners to their sixth walk-off win this season and their seventh extra-inning victory overall.
The game went to extras when Michael Wilson hit a solo homer in the ninth inning to tie the game at 3-3 against closer Derrick Miramontes. Southern Illinois had held a 3-2 lead since the third, when Vasquez singled home Riley against Florence Starter Casey Henn, thanks to strong pitching by Matt Bywater and Stew Brase. Bywater pitched into the eighth inning for the Miners, allowing just one earned run with six strikeouts.
Southern Illinois trailed 2-0 in the bottom of the second before Steve Marino tied it with a two-run homer, his second of the year, before Vasquez’s single the next inning for the 3-2 lead.
The Miners improved to a season-best 12 games over .500 with the win, and clinched their 12th straight series win at home and seventh straight series win overall. They go for the sweep on Tuesday night at 7:05 p.m., with Michael Carden pitching against Florence’s Dave Middendorf.