(Courtesy Southern Illinois Miners)
The Southern Illinois Miners got fantastic pitching for the second night in a row, this time by Matt Bywater (7-4), who out-dueled Chuck Weaver (6-6) and was supported by two big home runs and a clutch relief outing by Derrick Miramontes in an 8-4 win on Sunday. The victory, which featured a battle between two of the top four pitchers in the league in terms of ERA, gave the Miners the series win after dropping the opening contest on Friday.
The Miners jumped on top 1-0 in the first as Frank Martinez reached on an error that plated Jay Austin with two outs. Florence would respond with two outs in the third inning, as Bywater allowed a double to Ryan Solberg that scored a runner from first with the aid of an error in left field, tying the game at 1-1. Both runs were unearned against the starting pitchers.
Southern Illinois would take the lead for good in the fourth, when Martinez led off with a double and was doubled home by Chris Burke to make the score 2-1. Two batters later, with two outs, Steve Marino hit a two-run home run to left field making it 4-1 Miners.
Bywater took over from there, as after the double in the third inning, the left-hander sent down thirteen consecutive hitters in a span from the third through the seventh. Meanwhile, Weaver would also settle down, allowing one baserunner from the fifth inning until the eighth inning as the pitcher’s duel resumed.
Florence would rally in the eighth, as Buddy Sosnoskie led off with a single, the only time in the game Florence got their leadoff batter on base. He ended up scoring on a two-out single to make it 4-2. Stew Brase came on in relief, but walked Solberg and allowed an RBI single to Sam Eberle to slash the Miners’ lead down to just a single run at 4-3. But Miramontes would come in and fan reigning Frontier League Player of the Year Jacob Tanis with the tying run at third to get the Miners out of the jam.
The offense then poured on in the bottom of the same inning. Austin led off with a double, and after a wild pitch moved him to third, Niko Vasquez singled through the left side of the infield to make it 5-3. Weaver exited after that, and against relieved Ed Kohout, Martinez would walk before Aaron Gates blasted a three-run homer into the Miners’ bullpen to seal the deal.
Bywater pitched seven and two-thirds innings, allowing just four hits and two earned runs, walking one and striking out seven, earning a win for the first time in his last seven starts. Weaver ended up working seven and one-third innings, allowing eight hits and a season-high six runs (five of which were earned- also a season-high) with one walk and six strikeouts. Austin led the way with two doubles and three total hits, with six other Miners adding one hit apiece in a balanced attack to take the rubber match.
The Miners will now head to Traverse City on Tuesday for a three-game set against the Beach Bums starting at 6:05 p.m. CST. Michael Carden will pitch for the Miners against Traverse City’s Tanner Tripp.