MARION — The Southern Illinois Miners raced out to an early four-run lead and held on to edge the Gateway Grizzlies 6-4 on Tuesday in a scheduled 10-inning preseason game at Rent One Park.
Southern Illinois struck first in the first inning. After Grizzlies starting pitcher Aaron Newcomb retired the first two batters on groundouts, Jose Gonzalez reached on a Niko Vasquez error at third base and Chris Burke drove in Gonzalez on a triple.
The Miners tacked on three more runs in the second inning against Newcomb. Tyler Booth and Ryan Cavan each collected run-scoring singles and another run scored on an error.
Gateway strung together a single run in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings to come within a run at 4-3. Xavier Macklin drove picked up an RBI single, Tommy Richards hit a pinch-hit solo home run and Gabriel Molina picked up a sacrifice fly.
After Greg Kumpel recorded an RBI double in the seventh inning, the Grizzlies came within a run again on a Hunter Ridge RBI single in the ninth.
Southern Illinois tacked on an insurance run in the ninth to finalize the scoring at 6-4.
Newcomb took the loss, allowing four runs (two earned) on five hits in two innings. Ja'Vaun West fired two scoreless innings, Jacob Liedka allowed just one run in three innings of action, Aaron Baker allowed only one run in two frames and Justin Erasmus tossed a scoreless inning.
Gateway and Southern Illinois meet again Wednesday morning in both teams' second exhibition game. First pitch is scheduled for 11:35 a.m. in the friendly confines of GCS Ballpark.
The Grizzlies 2014 regular season opener is on May 16 when they take on the Traverse City Beach Bums at GCS Ballpark. Single game, season and group tickets are on sale now.For more information call 618-337-3000.