In a matter of less than seven hours Thursday, the nightmare which has been the first half of the Gateway Grizzlies season was summed up in the completion of a three-game sweep by the Southern Illinois Miners at GCS Ballpark.
Jarrud Sabourin hit a three-run home run to highlight a six-run fifth-inning outburst as Southern Illinois broke open a close game and went on to spoil the night for a crowd of 2,584 with an 11-0 win.
Making his professional debut, former Holy Cross University standout Donny Murray held the offensive-minded Miners to a run and just five hits during the first four innings as Gateway trailed just 1-0.
But tiring in the fifth, Murray gave up a run-scoring double to Michael Earley before being pulled by manager Phil Warren in favor of Troy Barton.
After giving up a two-run double to Frank Martinez, Barton was taken deep by Sabourin, whose home run sailed over the right-center field fence.
Miners starting pitcher Jarrett Miller did the rest as he allowed three hits in six innings. Joe Pavlovich pitched a scoreless seventh inning to complete the shutout.
The Grizzlies lack of offense was in sharp contrast to what happened earlier in the day when they collected 16 hits in a 12-6 loss, in a game which was completed after being suspended by rain Wednesday.
The win gave Southern Illinois (27-15) a sweep of the series and sent Gateway (13-28) to its seventh loss in its last eight games. Gateway is 15 games under .500 for the first time this season and 1-5 on its eight-game home stand.
Following the sweep, Grizzlies players were headed to the media room at GCS Stadium for a players-only meeting, while manager Phil Warren, dressing quickly after his team’s poor performance, was headed home.
Warren did have some rather stern words about the Grizzlies recent play.
“It’s gotten to the point where it’s embarassing. We prepare this baseball team to play to the best of their ability each night and in some cases it’s like they are doing the opposite of what we want them to do,’’ Warren said while walking to his car. “I can’t hit for them and I can’t play defense for them and (pitching coach) Randy Martz can’t pitch for them. It’s time to take accountability for your actions and step up.
“Tonight in the first game we have 16 hits, but we only score six runs. Why? A lack of execution that’s why. We have the bases loaded twice and get doubled up on line drives hit at the infielders. That should never happen. We have runners in scoring position and we strike out. We wasted a good performance at the plate where we got 16 hits, but not getting the job done when we have a chance to score.’’
In the first game:
Southern Illinois 12, Gateway 6: Brian Portelli hit the first two home runs of his professional career and drove in five runs as the Miners defeated Gateway in a wild offensive-minded contest.
The two teams combined for seven home runs and 28 hits in the contest which lasted nearly three hours. The Grizzlies, getting four hits each from Ryan Soares and Grant Buckner, but the difference in the game was the long ball as in addition to the pair of homers hit by Portelli, Southern Illinois also got home runs from Aaron Gates, Michael Earley and Niko Vasquez.
The Grizzlies got home runs from Soares and Madison Beaird, but also hit into three double plays.
Portelli’s first home run — a grand slam — in the sixth inning gave the Miners an 8-3 lead. But Gateway rallied for two runs in the sixth inning on Beaird’s second home run of the season and closed to within 8-6 in the seventh when pinch-hitter Richard Seigel drew a bases-loaded walk.
But Portelli hit a two-out home run in the eighth and after singles by Gates and Earley, Vasquez put the game away with a three-run home run to give Southern Illinois a 12-6 lead.
Rick Teasley worked six innings to get the win for Southern Illinois. Max Schonfeld gave up seven runs in 5 1/.3 innings as he fell to 2-3 for the Grizzlies.
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at email@example.com or 618-239-2661.