Mario Mercedes had three hits and two RBIs as he led the Southern Illinois Miners to a 5-2 win over the Windy City ThunderBolts at Rent One Park Friday night.
For the second straight night the ThunderBolts found themselves in an early hole. After leaving the bases loaded in the top half of the second, Mercedes knocked in Jason Ganek on a single in the bottom of the inning.
The Miners added one in the bottom of the third. Tyler Hall legged out an infield single to lead off the frame and he eventually crossed the plate on a Gerardo Avila base hit.
It remained 2-0 into the sixth inning, when Zach Aakhus put the ThunderBolts on the board with the team’s first home run of the year, a solo shot to left.
The Miners, though, responded with two more runs in the bottom of the inning. Cannon Lester’s sacrifice fly and Phil Butler’s RBI single made the score 4-1.
Windy City scored once more when, in the eighth, Jeff Harkensee hit a leadoff double. He stole third base and scored on a Ryan Soares sacrifice fly.
Southern Illinois once again answered, tacking on a run in the bottom of the eighth on back-to-back two-out hits from Lester and Mercedes.
Brian Oliver (1-0) pitched six innings for the win, while Matt Wickswat (0-1) allowed four runs in 5.1 innings, taking the loss. Brandon Cunniff pitched a perfect ninth inning, striking out two for his first save.
The ThunderBolts will continue their season-opening ten-game roadtrip on Saturday night with a 7:05 first pitch at Rent One Park for game two against the Southern Illinois Miners. Blayne Weller will get the start for Windy City and Richard Sullivan gets the call for the Miners. The game broadcast can be heard on WXAV, 88.3 fm and wxav.com.
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