The Normal CornBelters swung a big bat early, scoring all of their runs in the first two innings in a 7-2 win over the Southern Illinois Miners on Thursday night at Rent One Park in Marion, Illinois.
The CornBelters reached Miners starter David Harden quickly with a single to lead off from Alvaro Ramirez. He was forced at second on a Brandon Newton ground ball, but Newton moved to second with a base hit by Frank Martinez. Steve Alexander collected his 42nd RBI with a double to left, scoring Newton, and Martinez came home on Asif Shah's ground ball to second base to give the Belters a quick 2-0 lead.
The Miners got one run back in the bottom of the first. Justin Randall walked with one out, followed by a triple by Will Block to cut the Normal lead to 2-1. Block's hit was his seventh triple, most in the Frontier League.
The CornBelters placed another crooked number on the board in the second, batting ten men and scoring five times to take a 7-1 lead. A.J. Miller reached with one out after taking first base on a wild third strike, then moved to second on a single from Andrew Barbaro. Alvaro Ramirez reached on an error to load the bases, and with two outs, Frank Martinez cleared the bags with a double to increase his RBI total to a team-leading 44. Steve Alexander hit his second consecutive RBI double to score Martinez. Asif Shah then singled followed by an RBI base hit from Mike Mobbs to complete the scoring and give the Belters a 7-1 heading into the bottom of the second.
Southern Illinois tallied one more in the fourth, when a lead-off walk to Nate Hall came around to score thanks to a pair of singles to cut the Belters lead to 7-2.
Tyler Lavigne (4-7) picked up his first win since July 4th with his six-inning start, in which he gave up two runs on five hits while walking six and striking out six. Jacob Liedka pitched the final three scoreless innings for his second save. Miners starter David Harden (5-3) recorded the loss.
The road trip concludes with the series finale on Friday night at Rent One Park in Marion at 7:05 p.m. Right-handers are scheduled to start on the mound for both teams, Bobby Pritchett (5-3, 4.63) for the CornBelters and B.J. Dail (1-3, 5.51) for the Miners.