The Southern Illinois Miners won for the second time in three nights against the Lake Erie Crushers in walk-off fashion, with Adrian English knocking a pinch-hit single to left in the bottom of the ninth for a 7-6 win on Thursday night at Rent One Park in a topsy-turvy game that saw several comebacks by both teams to clinch the Miners’ tenth straight overall series win, fifth straight at home, a ninth straight winning season with their 49th overall win of the 2015 campaign and sole possession of first place to boot.
The Miners plated two runs in the first two innings off of Crushers starter Kolby Moore, the latter of which on an RBI double by Frank Martinez for a 2-0 Miners lead. After being held down for the first three innings by Miguel Ramirez, the Crushers got single runs in the fourth and sixth on RBI hits by Juan Sanchez and Boo Vazquez to knot the score at 2-2. Ramirez, who tied his career-high with 10 strikeouts, left the game after allowing two baserunners in the seventh inning, and with two outs and two strikes on the hitter, pinch-hitter Chandler Brock gave Lake Erie the lead with a two-run single against Joe Iorio at 4-2.
But the Miners rallied back. After Lake Erie closer Trevor Longfellow shut the Southern Illinois offense down for three and two-thirds innings, the Miners mounted a comeback by batting around against three different pitchers in the bottom of the seventh. With one out, Martinez walked and was followed by a Niko Vasquez single. After a pitching change and a wild pitch, Michael Earley pulled the Miners within a run at 4-3. Jerrud Sabourin struck the big blow in the frame after another wild pitch, with a two-run single to both extend his hitting streak to eight games and give the Miners a 5-4 lead. An RBI single by Craig Massey two batters later made the score 6-4 Miners.
That lead held until the top of the ninth, as Lake Erie again rallied back. Four hits in the inning off of Eric Green (5-2) tied the score again, and the game went to the bottom of the ninth. Against Mike Devine (3-4), Massey reached on a one-out single and stole second base. English was called upon to pinch-hit, and on an 0-2 count, he lined a single to left-center, scoring Massey and setting off the celebration in Marion.
Earley and Massey had three hits apiece in the offense-filled ballgame, with five different players driving home a run for the Miners. The teams combined for 27 hits, 15 by the Crushers and 12 by the Miners, as Southern Illinois claimed sole possession of first place in the overall standings once again. They will continue their homestand on Friday night at 7:05 p.m. against the Frontier Greys, with Rick Teasley pitching in the series opener.