Defensive miscues cost the Gateway Grizzlies Thursday night at GCS Ballpark.
Gateway committed two errors and lost to the first-place Southern Illinois Miners, 6-5. Gateway (15-11) remains in second place and is six and a half games behind the Miners, who have won nine consecutive games.
Gateway has lost seven of nine series openers.
Leadoff batter Jerome Milons proved to be quite a problem for the Grizzlies. Milons reached safely in his first four plate appearances and scored each time, including the go-ahead run in the seventh.
Milons drew his second walk of the night to start the frame, and Stephen Head’s soft liner was just out of the reach of second baseman Toby Davis’ glove to setup runners on first and second.
Grizzlies starting pitcher Mark Brackman (1-3) recorded his sixth strike for the second out, but couldn’t get out of the jam as Ernie Banks found the gap in right center for a two-run double.
Brackman allowed six hits on seven runs while walking five over seven innings of work. David Miller worked a scoreless eighth and Eric Gilliland pitched around a leadoff work for a scoreless ninth.
Gateway got a runner on base in the seventh and the eighth but left a runner on base each inning.
Jason Patton crushed a one-out solo homer in the ninth and Davis drew a two-out walk but Southern Illinois closer Brent DeFoor responded by striking out Adam Eggemeyer for his fourth save.
The Grizzlies scored four runs in the fourth to take a 4-2 lead.
Logan Parker drove in two runs with a double, and Justin Baum belted a two-run shot for his sixth homer of the season to cap off the four-run frame. Baum’s homer extended his hitting streak at home to 13 games.
The Grizzlies lead was short-lived as Evansville took advantage of a fielding error to knot the game at 4-4 in the fifth.
The Miners loaded the bases with one out, but Brackman induced a tailor-made, double-play groundball that wasn’t fielded cleanly by second baseman Davis, allowing Michael Stalter and Millons to score.
Brackman got another groundball that third baseman Justin Baum was able to start an around-the-horn, inning-ending double play to avoid further damage.
Millons scored twice in the first three innings to give the Miners a 2-0 lead. Millons singled, stole second and scored on Todd Martin’s two-out double in the first. Millons walked, stole second and crossed the plate in the third on Nate Hall’s single up the middle.
Southern Illinois 101 020 200 — 6 7 1
Gateway 000 200 001 — 5 7 2
Ryan Kussmaul, Mike Damchuk (8), Brent Defoor (9) and Brendan Akashian. Mark Brackman, David Miller (8), Eric Gilliland (9) and Charlie Lisk. WP-Ryan Kussmaul (2-1). LP-Brackman (1-3). S-Brent DeFoor (4). HR-Gate.-Justin Baum, 4th, one on. Jason Patton, 9th, none on. Att.-3,021.