The Gateway Grizzlies suffered their worst loss of the season Friday night at the hands of the Southern Illinois Miners at GCS Ballpark.
Gateway committed two errors, resulting in seven unearned runs, and walked seven as the Miners cruised past the Grizzlies, 11-5.
The loss ensures the first home series loss for Gateway, who had won its previous four home series, and with the win Southern Illinois ties a franchise best 10-game winning streak.
The first-place Miners (22-4) move seven and a half games ahead of second-place Gateway (15-12) in the West Division.
The Grizzlies may also have lost starting third baseman Justin Baum for an extended period of time. Baum left the game in the third inning with an apparent arm injury.
Baum dove to his right to field a sharply hit grounder but his arm got jammed underneath him. Baum immediately rolled over on the infield dirt in pain.
Baum entered the game with a 13-game hitting streak at GCS Ballpark and was batting .273 on the season with six home runs and 24 RBI.
Tyler Heil replaced Baum.
Southern Illinois broke open a close 2-1 game with a six-run fourth inning. The Miners took advantage of three walks and a fielding error to send 10 batters to the plate.
Brad Miller’s solo shot banged off the 345-foot sign hanging on the light tower that sits just past the 16-foot high wall in left center started the rally. Michael Stalter came around to score from first when Tyler Heil failed to cleanly field a routine grounder, which rolled to center field.
The unearned run ended starter Richard Barrett’s night after just 3 2/3 innings of work. Barrett allowed three homers, five hits and walked two as he fell to 1-2.
Rookie Drew Wurdack replaced Barrett and walked the first two batters he faced to load the bases and Todd Martin cleared the bases with a grand slam home run to cap the six-run inning.
Stalter drove in a run in the fifth, and Gateway’s defensive woes continued as an error in the sixth resulted in two more unearned runs crossing the plate for the Miners.
Southern Illinois scored the game’s first run on Brendan Akashian’s first homer of the season to start the third, and Nate Hall belted his first round-tripper two batters later.
The Grizzlies cut their deficit in half on Adam Eggemeyer’s first homer of the season in the bottom of the third, and Bobby Burk added a solo homer in the sixth.
Gateway threatened to make the final two innings interesting by scoring three in the eighth and loading the bases with just one out. Burk scored on an error, and Jason Patton’s single brought in Brandon Peters. Eggemeyer drew a bases-loaded, two-out walk to bring in Logan Parker, but the Grizzlies stranded three runners as reliever Alex Thieroff struck out Bryan Marquez.
Gateway looks to avoid being swept for the first time in the series finale Saturday night with first pitch set at 7:05 p.m.
Southern Illinois 002 612 000 — 11 12 1
Gateway 001 001 030 — 5 11 2
Brett Scarpetta, Robert Hedrick (8), Alex Thieroff (8) and Brendan Akashian. Richard Barrett, Drew Wurdack (4), Sean Toler (6), Eric Blackwell (9) and Charlie Lisk. WP-Brett Scarpetta. LP-Richard Barrett. HR: SI-Brendan Akashian, 3rd, none on; Nate Hall, 3rd, none on; Brad Miller, 4th, none on; Todd Martin, 4th, three on. Gate-Adam Eggemeyer, 3rd, none on; Bobby Burk, 6th, none on. Att.-4,544.