The Southern Illinois Miners fell behind big in the early innings against the River City Rascals on Tuesday night at T.R. Hughes Ballpark in O’Fallon, Missouri, but despite five runs in the sixth inning they could not get the tying run home late in an 8-7 loss to the Rascals in the series opener between the two clubs.
After neither side got a baserunner in the first, the Miners stranded the bases loaded in the second and River City capitalized, scoring three runs on three two-out hits, including two homers over the short right-center field wall against Miguel Ramirez (2-6) in the frame for a 3-0 advantage. That lead was widened to 7-0 when the home team batted around and scored four more runs in the fourth inning.
The Miners battled back. A leadoff walk in the fourth by Niko Vasquez and a double by Aaron Gates set the Miners up to score two runs in the inning, with Frank Martinez driving home one on a sac-fly and Jerrud Sabourin singling home the other to cut the deficit to 7-2. River City would add an insurance run in the fifth that would prove to be critical on another two-out hit, this one a single by Zach Kometani, to stretch the lead out to 8-2.
The Miners then mounted a big rally to make it a close ballgame in the sixth. After Gates led off with a walk, Martinez and Sabourin rapped singles through the right side of the infield to load the bases with nobody out. After a pitching change, Steve Marino came through with a double down the right field line just out of the reach of a diving Jackson Slaid, scoring two and making the score 8-4. Two batters later, on an 0-2 pitch, Craig Massey launched his first home run as a Miner, a three-run shot that got just to the right of the high right field wall to get the Miners within a run at 8-7.
But the score would remain the same in the late innings, with the Miners stranding the potential tying run on base in the seventh, eighth and ninth, falling by a single tally in the road series opener. Gates, Martinez and Sabourin each had two hits in the contest to pace the Miners’ offense, which scored five or more runs for the fifth straight game.
The Miners will look to draw even in the series on Wednesday night at 6:35 p.m. in game two, with Rick Teasley on the hill for the Miners against the Rascals’ Dane Stone.
The Southern Illinois Miners are the 2014 Frontier League East Division Champions and the 2012 Frontier League Champions. 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 2007, their inaugural season. For ticket information, contact the Rent One Park box office at 618-998-8499. For any additional information, visit our website at www.southernillinoisminers.com.