Rascals hang on to beat Miners, 7-5
River City scored three in the seventh to stretch a one-run lead to 6-2 and used five pitchers to record the final nine outs. Jason Sullivan picked up his first save as the Southern Illinois Miners stranded the bases loaded in the ninth inning of a 7-5 Rascal win.
Rascal starter Preston Vancil (7-8) got off to a great start, retiring six of the first seven he faced allowing the River City offense a chance to give him an early lead. They would get that done in the second inning off Miner’s starter Shawn Gilblair (10-5).
Chris Andreas and Corey LaVier hit back-to-back one-out singles before Matt Serna laced a double off the wall in right-center, just missing his first professional homerun, to give the Rascals a 1-0 lead and moving LaVier to third. He would score on a Zach Deutscher sac-fly to make it 2-0.
Vancil pitched around two singles in the third and struck out the side in the fourth before LaVier belted his first homerun as a professional to right-center for a 3-0 lead.
The Miners (49-35) answered in the fifth with three-straight singles, the last a two-run roller inside the bag at first to close the gap to 3-2. Vancil pitched around a single in the sixth before he was lifted for Nick Kennedy, who teamed with Cory Caruso to get through the seventh.
With Gilblair out after five innings for Southern Illinois, the Rascals (41-44) got to lefty Darrin Tew for three runs in the seventh on a walk to Eric Williams that was followed by consecutive doubles from Doug Sanders (who finished the night 3-for-5) and Jason Patton who scored on a Jeremy Synan single up the middle for a 6-2 lead.
Javier Herrera started the eighth inning for the Miners with a homerun off Justin Gill to close to 6-3 but Gill would strikeout the side and the Rascals would answer with a run in the bottom of the frame when LaVier (who finished a triple shy of the cycle in his first home start) walked, stole second, advanced to third on a Deutscher double to right field, and scored on a wild pitch to push the lead back to four runs at 7-3.
Former Miner and current Rascal closer Albert Ayala allowed four hits to the first five batters in the ninth, a two-run double from Herrera chasing him from the game and putting the tying run in scoring position. Jason Sullivan entered to strike out former Rascal Chad Maddox (who was held hitless in five at-bats with three strikeouts) and following an intentional walk to Ken Gregory that loaded the bases, induced a groundout from Carlos Mendez (a Rascal off season acquisition and trade to Southern Illinois) to end the game.