Game one of the three game series Friday night at Rent One Park between the Rascals (4-3) and the Miners (2-5) can be remembered as the Dan Ludwig show, round three. In Ludwig’s third start against his old club, he weaved seven ⅓ innings, allowing just one run on three hits and led his club to their fourth win of the year, 4-2, against the 2016 western division champion.
Against the Miners, Ludwig has tossed 20.2 innings and has pitched to a 1.78 ERA (4 earned runs), has struck out 15 and has won three straight games all at his former home of Rent One Park dating back to last season. The first win was to clinch the Rascals berth in the 2016 postseason and the second was to put the Rascals past the Miners into the Frontier League Championship Series.
The third start tonight, though on a smaller stage, was just as impressive for Ludwig and the only run allowed was in the second inning on back-to-back hits, including a RBI single from former 4th round pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers Justin Chigbogu.
That run tied up the game as the Rascals got a first inning RBI single from Josh Silver that scored Mike Jurgella.
On the mound for the miners was Payton Lobdell, who after the Silver single retired ten in a row going into the fifth inning.
Jason Merjano then broke the streak by jumping on third pitch of the inning for a double and then got into scoring position on a groundout before scoring the go-ahead run thanks to a sacrifice fly from Clint Freeman.
The 2-1 lead would grow in the top of the seventh and the Rascals chased the Miners starter out of the game after back-to-back singles with no outs.
Eleventh year Miners manager Mike Pinto called upon southpaw Elvin Liriano and he failed to strand the runners as a wild pitch would score Josh Silver and a RBI fielder’s choice off the bat of Jimmy Kerrigan capped the Rascals scoring and extended the lead to 4-1.
Ludwig tossed a scoreless seventh and then combined with Rascals veteran Nick Kennedy for a scoreless eighth setting up closer Jason Zgardowski for his second save of the year.
“With teams that you have played for in the past, the key is to not treat it any differently. I still go through the same routine before the game and then go out and execute my pitches,” Ludwig said. “I went out there and filled up the zone and let my defense do the rest of the work.”
Zgardowski, who earned the save on Wednesday against the Otters, allowed the tying run to come to the plate with one out and the Miners would score on a run on what was nearly a game ending double play ball. However, a throwing error allowed a run, unearned, to score and then Zgardowski struck out Chigbogu to end the game and snap the Rascals two game losing skid.
The series continues Saturday night as the Rascals send out southpaw Austin Warner searching for his first win of the year. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 from Marion, Illinois.