Miners put stop to Grizzlies' win streak

News-DemocratJune 19, 2014 

— Tyler Booth and Aaron Gates hit consecutive homers on back-to-back pitches during a four-run, seventh-inning rally as the Southern Illinois Miners beat the Gateway Grizzlies 8-2 on Thursday before 3,117 fans at GCS Ballpark.

Ryan Cavan added a three-run homer in the eighth inning as the Miners scored a season-high 11 runs.

The Grizzlies (20-11) had a five-game winning streak snapped.

Grizzlies manager Phil Warren chalked up the loss to simply a bad night.

"We're a good team,'' said Warren, whose team plays a four-game series against River City this weekend with first place in the Frontier League's West Division on the line. "We have a big series this weekend, four games in three days. After we talk here, I am over this. It's time to move on.''

The Miners (16-14) ended a four-game losing streak.

Ben Waltrip, a first baseman by trade, threw a scoreless ninth for the Grizzlies.

"We're staring down the barrel of two nine-inning games scheduled on Saturday, so at this point it wasn't so much about now than protecting our bullpen and our arms,'' Warren said of sending Waltrip to the mound.

Waltrip threw 33 pitches, 15 strikes. He walked three batters, hit a batter with a pitch and struck out a batter.

"It was probably high school,'' Waltrip said the last time he pitched in a game. "(Randy) Martz, our pitching coach, had been messing with me all week. He said he wanted to get me to pitch a little bit just seeing my arm across the infield.

"Then I was messing with him today, throwing a quick bullpen down there, and he was like, 'If the game gets out of control or we need to eat an inning, we might call you in.'''

Thanks to a double play off a liner to the second baseman, Waldrip didn't give up any runs despite his control issues.

Asked if he'd seen anything in Waltrip that made him think he could be effective, Warren said, "He had a heartbeat and he'd thrown a baseball before. No offense, Ben. I appreciated what he did. The guys do, too.''

Grizzlies starter Tucker Jensen (4-1) gave up eight runs on nine hits in suffering his first loss of the season.

"The balls were up from mid-thigh to the belt,'' said of Jensen's problems. "He lost control of the lower part of the (strike) zone, and he doesn't throw hard enough to be able to accomplish that. Throwing his fastball there.

"His breaking balls were up as well. Tucker knows that. He'll be better next time.''

The Grizzlies got a run in the first inning as Jonathan Johnson walked, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Madison Beaird and scored on a single by Landon Hernandez.

The Miners tied the score at 1-1 with a run in the third.

Jared McDonald hit a ground-rule double and scored on a two-out single by Jon Eisen.

The Miners pushed across three runs in the fourth inning.

They had four straight hits -- a double by Aaron Gates and singles by Chris Burke, Jay Austin and Steve Marino -- to start the inning.

McDonald drove in a run with a fielder's choice grounder to cap the rally.

The Grizzlies cut their deficit to 4-2 when Xavier Macklin homered to lead off the bottom of the fourth.

Macklin sent a 1-1 pitch over the left-field wall for his team-leading sixth homer of the season.

"It was a changeup that stayed up too long, and I got some good wood on it,'' Macklin said.

The Miners used the long ball to pad their lead to 8-4 with four runs in the seventh.

With two outs, Ryan Cavan singled and Eisen drew a walk.

Booth sent a 1-0 pitch from Jensen over the right-field wall for his first homer of the season.

On the next pitch, Gates homered to right. It was his third homer of the season.

Gateway reliever Phillip Reamy walked Jay Austin and hit Phil Butler with a pitch before giving up a two-out homer to Cavan, the Miners' No. 9 hitter.

Three Southern Illinois pitchers -- Matt Brywater (2-1), Stew Brase and Britt Robertshaw -- limited the Grizzlies to just four hits.

Contact reporter Steve Korte at skorte@bnd.com or 239-2522.

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