The River City Rascals (27-27) clinched their second straight series victory on the road with a thrilling 6-5 extra-inning win over the Southern Illinois Miners (21-32) Saturday night at Rent One Park.
The eleventh inning would feature five total runs and the wild night was the third extra-inning game between these two teams this year and the first one that the Rascals have came out on the winning side.
In the Frontier League, the international tiebreaker rule comes into effect if the game goes to an eleventh frame so to start on second base was Clint Freeman and on the mound for the Miners was Ethan Gibbons.
In a 3-3 game, Johnny Morales executed a sacrifice bunt to put Freeman at third and then after a walk to Brandon Thomas, Jimmy Kerrigan was nearly hit by a pitch but instead, the ball hit the knob of the bat and rolled slowly down the first base line.
Aware of the situation, Clint Freeman came charging home and gave the Rascals a 4-3 lead.
Kerrigan would be rewarded a RBI on the groundout and then one batter later, Mike Jurgella clubbed a two-run blast over the left field wall that extended the Rascals lead to three.
“I saw a curve ball that was up in the zone and was fortunate to get a good barrel on it,” Jurgella said. “Our bullpen was battling all night and did an awesome job to put us in that position.”
The round tripper proved to be huge because the Miners struck for a pair of runs against Matt Chavarria, one earned, in the bottom of the eleventh but a groundout to shortstop Johnny Morales ended the night and secured the Rascals victory.
While Chavarria earned his first professional save, closer Cody Mincey tallied his first professional win due to a scoreless bottom of the tenth inning.
The Rascals runs to win the game were their first runs since the first half of the game against the Miners starter Chris Washington.
Trailing 1-0 in the third, Jimmy Kerrigan tied the game up with a RBI single to score Brandon Thomas and then the Rascals would trail by a single run again as the Miners answered with a sacrifice fly in their next opportunity.
The Miners 2-1 lead would be their final lead of the night and it didn’t last for long as the Rascals right fielder Braxton Martinez sent a ball through the middle infield to drive in Josh Silver and Paul Kronenfeld in the top of the fourth inning.
Rascals starter Dan Ludwig came back out to the mound pitching with the lead for the first time and he would last seven more outs without allowing a run to score.
In a no-decision, his final line was 5.1 innings, two runs, earned, on five hits and a strikeout.
Rohn Pierce and Jason Zgardowski combined to hold the Miners scoreless until the eighth inning and then southpaw Anthony Paesano was called upon to begin the eighth with lefty Nolan Early due up.
Early would draw a walk and then with Kennedy on the mound for the rest of the frame, Ben Moore notched a two-out RBI single to tie the game at three which would eventually send it to extras.
In total, the Rascals tallied nine hits and Johnny Morales led the way with two for the second night in a row. Seven other players recorded one and Brandon Thomas also was a big part of the win with two runs scored.
The win puts the Rascals back at the .500 mark and they look to get over that mark Sunday night for the first time since June 21st.
“It’s a big series for us, we want to be able to take all the things that we do at home on the road and we have done that so far,” Jurgella said. “We are in a bit of a groove right now and hopefully we can keep it going.”
The final game of the set is scheduled for 5:05 p.m. at Rent One Park.