The Southern Illinois Miners fell behind early thanks to a home run, but came back with two of their own as as Niko Vasquez tied it in the seventh and Steve Marino won the game with a two-run walk-off blast in the ninth inning to give the Miners their second straight East Division title by a score of 3-1 over the Traverse City Beach Bums on Sunday at Rent One Park, completing a three-game weekend series sweep.
Miners starter Rick Teasley was brilliant in the contest, and ended up pitching eight innings, allowing just six hits and a lone run against the Beach Bums with five strikeouts. That lone run came on a third-inning solo homer by Willi Ramos, making the score 1-0. The Miners’ offense was stifled for the first six innings by the Beach Bums’ pitching staff, as they had runners at first and second with one out twice but could not capitalize. After starter Rob Blanc pitched the first five innings, reliever Scott Vachon would crack in his second inning of work in the seventh.
On a full count, Vasquez cranked a game-tying solo shot to left field, his 15th home run of the season, to knot the score at 1-1. The Miners’ bullpen held the fort in the late innings, while Southern Illinois again got runners on base in the eighth but came up empty, setting up the dramatic finish. After the first two batters were retired in the ninth by Chuck Ghysels (6-1), Jerrud Sabourin singled on the first pitch he saw from the right-hander to set the table for Marino. The third baseman delivered, as he also swung and hit the first pitch he saw from Ghysels, driving it over the fence to win both the game and the East Division title for the Miners.
Marino ended up 3-for-4 in the game, just a triple away from the cycle to lead the Miners to victory, with the Miners also getting two hits from Vasquez and Sabourin in the contest. The walk-off winner was the second of the season for Marino as well as the ninth walk-off win overall by the club and the second by the home run ball. The Miners also earned their 61st win of the season and 24th in come-from-behind fashion. They are now 61-29, just three more wins away from tying the franchise record for wins in a single season set back in 2010.
After an off day on Monday, the Miners head on the road to Sauget for a three-game series against Gateway before returning home for the final three games of the regular season. A starter to be named for the Miners will face Gateway’s Jordan Spencer on Tuesday night at 7:05 p.m.