(Courtesy Southern Illinois Miners)
The Southern Illinois Miners won their fifth contest in a row and seventh in their last eight, completing a sweep of the Normal CornBelters by scoring early and often again in a 12-4 victory on Sunday night at Rent One Park.
In the first, the Miners commenced their huge offensive game against starter Bobby Shore (4-7), as after a Ryan Cavan double and a Niko Vasquez walk, Frank Martinez continued his scorching-hot hitting with an RBI single. After Aaron Gates walked to load the bases, Chris Burke ripped a two-run double over third base to make it 3-0 before a Marquis Riley RBI groundout made it 4-0 after one.
In the second, Phil Butler and Jay Austin led off with consecutive singles and after Austin stole second, Cavan doubled both home for a 6-0 advantage. After a strikeout, Martinez went deep, crushing a breaking pitch onto the concourse level near the clubhouse for a two-run blast that made it 8-0.
That would be all Michael Carden (6-4) needed, as after a rocky outing in his last start, the left-hander was dominant at times, pitching seven innings and allowing five hits with only one earned run- a solo homer in his final inning of work- and a season-high six strikeouts. The Miners would tack on two more runs in the sixth and seventh and Normal would also add three unearned runs in the ninth to complete the scoring.
Martinez led the way again with a 2-for-3 night and four RBIs total, while Burke, Cavan and Vasquez each contributed two RBIs to the cause as Southern Illinois closed out their home schedule at 39-15. Their current five-game winning streak represents the third time this season that the Miners have won at least five in a row this year.
The Miners will finish their regular season with a three-game road series against the Lake Erie Crushers beginning on Tuesday night at 6:05 p.m. CDT. The starters for both teams have yet to be determined.