The Southern Illinois Miners trailed the River City Rascals 2-0 after the first inning, but climbed back into the game via the long ball. Then, after the Rascals rallied to get within a run in the seventh, they opened the floodgates with a season-high eight-run inning in the eighth to win the game 14-5 at CarShield Field in O’Fallon on Wednesday night.
River City smacked five hits and scored two runs off of starter Dan Ludwig in the first inning, but they would get no hits in the final five innings he pitched. The left-hander walked Jason Merjano to lead off the second, but then would retire 13 consecutive batters and 15 out of 16 to conclude his outing. Meanwhile, captain Steve Marino provided the Miners with the early offense they needed, tying the game with a two-run homer to left field in the second inning at 2-2, then giving the Miners the lead with another two-run blast in his next at-bat, putting the team up 4-2 in the fourth.
The home run ball continued to work for the Miners as they tacked on with solo shots by Alex De Leon and Vin Guglietti in the sixth and seventh, respectively, for a 6-2 lead heading to the bottom of the seventh. River City would then plate three runs against the Miners’ bullpen on a two-run, pinch-hit double by Robby Enslen and an RBI single by Mike Jurgella to make it 6-5. But after Jake Cose, the fourth pitcher of the inning by the Miners, hit Josh Ludy to load the bases with two outs, he struck out Griff Gordon swinging to preserve the lead.
Then the Miners responded and then some. Craig Massey led off with a single and after pinch-runner Brendan O’Brien stole second and Nolan Earley walked, Marino came up again and socked an RBI single into center field to make it 7-5. Two batters later, Toby DeMello drove home two more runs with a single of his own to make it 9-5, and two consecutive wild pitches would plate another run to make the score 10-5 with Francisco Rosario batting. In the next at-bat by Aaron Gates, a passed ball on Ludy brought home another run, and after a pitching change brought in Will Schierholz (the fourth River City pitcher of the frame), he allowed four more hits in a row, including an RBI double by O’Brien and RBI singles by De Leon and Earley, completing the frame. The Miners scored a season-high eight runs in the inning on eight hits to set a new franchise record for hits in a single frame.
Marino led the charge offensively with a 3-for-5 game with three runs scored and a career-high five RBIs. It was also his first career multi-homer game. De Leon also went 3-for-4 with three runs scored, a homer and an RBI, while both DeMello and Rosario had two-hit games, with DeMello also driving in two on the day. Each player to see action in the game for the Miners except one had at least one hit in the contest, with seven of the nine starters scoring at least one run and every single offensive player reaching base at least once in the game.
On the mound, Ludwig improved to 4-0 with six innings of two-run ball for a quality start, striking out five and walking one as the Miners improved to 22-12 and remained in first place in the West Division standings.
The Miners will go for the two-game sweep in their final regular season game in O’Fallon in 2016 on Thursday morning at 11:05 a.m. Josh Kimborowicz will get the start for Southern Illinois opposite River City’s Joe Scanio.