The River City Rascals (48-46) overcame an early three run deficit but couldn’t scratch across any more runs the rest of the night and lost their fourth game in a row, 7-4, Friday night in the series opener against the Southern Illinois Miners.
The Rascals entered tonight’s contest having won just two of the first nine games between these two teams this year and they wouldn’t do themselves any favors in the first inning grounding into an inning ending double play ball against Miners starter Dyllon Nuernberg.
The Miners offense followed that up with their largest inning of the night and chased Rascals starter Joe Pavlovich out of the game before he recorded an out.
The right-hander walked leadoff hitter Aaron Gates and then the Frontier League Rookie of the Year Shane Kennedy put the Miners on the board first with a RBI double. The Miners would load the bases on a walk and a single with no outs and a 1-0 lead causing Rascals Manger Steve Brook to go to his bullpen and try to limit the damage.
Dylan Brammer was called upon and he would come in and strand two of three runners with a double play ball and a ground out. The two runners that he did not strand scored on a two RBI single from Nolan Early to give the Miners a 3-0 lead and both of those runs were charged to Pavlovich.
In the top of the second, the Rascals strung together a stretch of quality at-bats to get on the scoreboard and pull within one run. Josh Silver and Jason Merjano both singled and then after a ground out and a walk to load the bases, Clint Freeman notched a RBI single and Braxton Martinez made it 3-2 with a sacrifice fly to score Mike Jurgella.
The scoring continued for the Miners in the next opportunity and they took a 4-2 lead on Kennedy’s second RBI of the night, a single driving in Brandon Cummings who reached on a leadoff walk.
With a 4-2 lead, Miners Manager Mike Pinto went to his bullpen as well and after his reliever Kyle Tinius retired the first five batters he faced, he allowed the Rascals to tie the game up via a RBI triple from Clint Freeman and a RBI single from Braxton Martinez.
The Rascals bottom of the order began the game 3-3 with four RBI while the rest of the lineup the first two times through the order combined to go three for 12.
Those two runs in the fourth inning would be the last of the Rascals comeback efforts as they only recorded three hits the remainder of the night and the Miners took the lead for good in the bottom of the fourth against Dylan Brammer when Aaron Gates came home to score on a double play ground out.
The Miners tallied their sixth run on a solo home run from Cummins and then their seventh and final run came in the seventh inning against Jason Zgardowski. The run would be unearned though as Craig Massey reached on an error before being driven in by the Frontier League leader in RBI Steve Marino.
Marino capped off the offense for the Miners and they finished with their seven runs on eleven hits.
Tinius earned the win and despite a quality six innings, Rascals right-hander Dylan Brammer took the loss allowing three runs, two earned, on seven hits and struck out three.
With two games left in the regular season, the Rascals are just one game up from the Lake Erie Crushers and can clinch a playoff berth with a win combined with a Crushers loss Saturday night.
The first pitch of the 95th game of the season is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. Saturday night at Rent One Park with Zeb Sneed on the mound.