Four Miners home runs haunted River City and the Rascals were swept at home for the first time since 2013, a 10-7 loss against Southern Illinois Thursday afternoon at CarShield Field.
It was an unlucky start for the Rascals as five batters in, starter Joe Scanio had to leave the game with a right arm injury causing manager Steve Brook to use his bullpen the rest of the game.
Scanio recorded the first two outs of the inning and then Craig Massey singled and the Miners got their first run of the game on an error from center fielder Alexi Colon. Nolan Early followed that with a RBI double and that would be the last batter Scanio would face as he was tagged with a tough loss, giving up three runs (no earned) on two hits.
Joe Pavlovich was the first arm out of the bullpen and he would face two batters before recording the final out of the frame. Marino was hit by a pitch and Vin Guglietti notched a RBI double to give the Miners a 3-0 lead heading into the bottom of the first.
Just like game one of the series, the Rascals scored a pair of runs in the opening frame and they both came with two outs. Kyle Gaedele started the two-out hitting with a single and moved into scoring position with a double from Jason Merjano. One batter later, one of the top hitters in the Frontier League, Josh Ludy, pulled the Rascals within one with a two RBI single. The third year Rascal ranks top five in the league in batting average with a .367.
“My main focus has just been putting good at-bats together and making sure I swing at my pitches,” Ludy said. “I have been doing a good job seeing the ball and not chasing the ball out of the zone.”
Pavlovich would throw a scoreless second despite allowing three base runners and Lucas Laster came on to begin the third with the Rascals trailing by one.
Guglietti was the first to find success off of Laster recording a solo home run to make it 4-2 and then three hits in the following inning off Laster, including a RBI each from Craig Massey and Alex De Leon made it 6-2. Reese Gregory relieved Laster to record the final out and he would go on to hold the Miners hitless for the next three innings keeping the Rascals within striking distance.
The Rascals used Gregory’s shutdown innings to make a comeback and started to cut into the lead their next opportunity off Miners starter Josh Kimborowicz. Josh Ludy picked up his third RBI of the game with a double to score Jason Merjano and then the bases were loaded after a walk from Robby Enslen and a single from Craig Nennig, his first professional hit. Kimborowicz walked Colon with the bases loaded and the score was 6-4 heading into the fifth.
“It feels good to settle in and get that first one out of the way,” Nennig said. “Hopefully a lot more will come.”
Kimborowicz tossed one more inning after that and Pinto went to his bullpen for the final four frames. The right-hander earned the win to improve to 5-0, allowing four runs (2 earned) on seven hits and struck out three. Thursdays start was the shortest of the year for the first year Miner and it was his first time giving up more than six hits.
Brooks Trujillo was the first reliever to keep the Rascals scoreless as he tossed a solid sixth and seventh to keep his team in front by a pair of runs and by the time he came back out for the eighth, he had two more runs of insurance via a two-run home run from Shane Kennedy. Gregory would retire the next two batters and then did not come back out for the ninth.
The four run lead didn’t last long though as back-to-back RBI doubles from Clint Freeman and Willi Martin cut the lead back to two and Jake Cose came in for relief and held the score at 8-6.
Manager Steve Brook went to closer Zac Treece looking to hold the deficit to a pair of runs but the Miners became a streak stopper and held Treece’s scoreless appearances at nine in a row. Nolan Early and Steve Marino both tagged him for a solo home run to lead off the inning and then Treece finished it out on a positive note by striking out the side.
River City would make it 10-7 in the ninth with a sacrifice fly from Jason Merjano but that was it and the Rascals dropped their fourth straight game, the longest losing streak of the season.
The Rascals will look to snap that Friday night as they open up a series against the Gateway Grizzlies. Zeb Sneed will be on the mound and first pitch is scheduled for 6:35 at CarShield Field.