The Southern Illinois Miners rallied back from a 3-0 deficit against the Rockford Aviators to take a 4-3 lead, and after the home team tied the score in the eighth scored three runs in the tenth to win 7-4, clinching a berth in the 2015 Frontier League Playoffs with their fourth win in a row. It is the sixth trip to the postseason for the franchise, as well as the second in a row.
Michael Hur gave the Aviators a 3-0 lead with a three-run homer off of Miguel Ramirez in the second inning to open the scoring, but the right-hander settled down after that, pitching a quality start of six innings, allowing just the three runs and retiring eight of the last nine batters he faced. The Miners began their comeback in the fifth inning when Michael Earley doubled home Aaron Gates from first with two outs to make the score 3-1. Niko Vasquez slammed a pitch over the center field fence in the next frame for a solo shot, with his 12th homer of the season cutting the Rockford lead to 3-2 before Southern Illinois took the lead in the seventh.
After a leadoff error on third baseman Raul Linares allowing Brian Portelli to reach, two batters later, Craig Massey hit a go-ahead two-run shot to right field for a 4-3 Miners lead. Rockford was able to get the tying run across on a two-out single in the eighth by Justin Fox, but Evan Mott kept the score knotted at 4-4 before Eric Green (6-3) got out of a two-on, none-out jam in the bottom of the ninth by inducing a pop-up on the infield and then a 4-6-3 double play to send the game to extra innings.
In the tenth, after Vasquez walked with one out, Jerrud Sabourin doubled pinch-runner Ryan DiMascio to third base. After a flyout to center against Patrick Dolan (3-3), the Aviators intentionally walked Marquis Riley to load the bases with two outs. Toby DeMello then hit a ground ball to Fox at shortstop, and the rookie infielder bobbled it, then tried to step on second base and throw to first base, but neither attempt was in time as DiMascio scored to give the Miners a 5-4 lead on the error. Dolan then walked Massey and Gates to force in two runs for the final margin.
With the win, the Miners became the first Frontier League team to clinch a spot in the postseason in 2015. They also maintained their lead over Evansville with the best record in the league while moving to a season-best 24 games over .500. They will next head back home to begin a six-game homestand on Tuesday night against the Lake Erie Crushers.