The River City Rascals (28-27) completed a sweep at Rent One Park for the first time in franchise history with a 6-4 win over the Southern Illinois Miners (21-33) in the series finale Sunday night in Marion, Illinois.
The sweep was the third overall for the Rascals this year and paving the way to create the success in the finale was Johnny Morales and Brandon Thomas, who combined for four hits and a pair of RBI.
Both of their RBI came late in the game and in total, the Rascals scored five of their six runs in the fifth inning or later.
The lone run that came prior to the fifth inning came in the second via a RBI groundout from Josh Bunselmeyer that scored Josh Ludy to tie the game up at one.
On the mound for the Rascals was Tim Koons and in his tenth start of the year, he would allow just two runs, one earned, through his first six innings and was put in line for the win by the time he toed the rubber for the bottom of the fifth.
The lead came courtesy of a two RBI triple from Mike Jurgella that put his team on top 3-2 and it extended his hitting streak to nine games.
That triple was also the final batter for the Miners starter Zach Cooper and would take the loss, his seventh of the year allowing three runs, earned, in 4.1 innings.
The Rascals added to their lead in the next two frames against the Miners bullpen with a RBI single from Morales in the sixth and then in the seventh, Paul Kronenfeld bounced a ball to the right side of the infield and an error on the receiving end of the play would bring a run into score.
The run on the error gave the Rascals a 5-2 lead and it proved to be huge as after the stretch, the Miners leader in home runs, Ryan Lashley, stroked a two-run home run over the left center field wall to bring his team within a run and ended the night for the Rascals right-hander Tim Koons.
The start would still go down as a quality start though as Koons lasted 6.1 innings allowing four runs, three earned, on seven hits and two strikeouts.
Along with his third win of the year, Sunday’s start marked his third straight quality start and his fifth in his past six games.
Anthony Paesano and Nick Kennedy combined to hold the Miners scoreless the rest of the inning and then the Rascals fed off that energy in the top of the eighth and would take a 6-4 lead with a RBI single from Thomas.
Thomas’s clutch hit capped off the scoring for the Rascals and in total, the Rascals tallied a total of nine hits. Three players tallied a pair, including Morales who led the way with six hits over the course of the series. Thomas and Clint Freeman also notched two and newcomer Paul Kronenfeld singled in the ninth inning to extend his hitting streak to three games.
Closer Cody Mincey earned his team leading sixth save of the year in the bottom of the ninth and it helped put the Rascals over the .500 mark for the first time since June 21.
“We played really good baseball overall this weekend and it always feels good to get a series sweep, especially here in Southern. It’s coming down to the end of the season and it will be here sooner than we know it,” Morales said. “Getting over .500 is huge and it’s the first step as we try to catch up in the standings and get into the playoffs.”
The Rascals look to continue their winning ways as they open up a six game homestand on Tuesday against the Lake Erie Crushers.
First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m.