Baseball: Slammers can’t get going vs. Miners
By Tim Tierney For Sun-Times Media August 18, 2013 10:36PM
Updated: August 18, 2013 10:55PM
The final weekend home game for the Joliet Slammers was a “Bark in the Park’’ event Sunday that turned out to be a dog on the field, too.
Walks and an error helped stake Southern Illinois to a 6-0 lead after two innings and the Miners stayed in the running for the Frontier League playoffs with a 9-3 victory at Silver Cross Field.
Southern Illinois (45-36), the defending league champion, is vying with Traverse City (47-34) and Gateway (46-35) for the two wild-card spots in the four-team playoff format.
The Slammers (33-48) aren’t thinking playoffs, especially after losing 15 of their last 21 games with 15 left to play.
Joliet starter Corey Kimes (4-7) of Ottawa lasted only 11/3 innings, giving up six runs (four earned) on four hits and three walks. The three batters he walked in the Miners’ five-run second inning all scored.
“That’s really your ballgame right there,’’ Slammers manager Mike Breyman said. “We had a couple opportunities to get back into it and take him off the hook. But when you give up five runs in the second inning, it’s 6-0 right off the bat. It’s demoralizing.’’
A throwing error by Grant DeBruin on what could have been an inning-ending double play led to three of the second-inning runs.
“That’s another thing. We didn’t really help him out too much either,’’ Breyman said. “You have to play better baseball. That second inning is not the way you’re supposed to play baseball.’’
The Slammers were down 8-0 before they scored in the fifth inning. Niko Vasquez (2-for-4, run) led off with a single and scored four batters later on a base hit by Joe Meggs.
Joliet scored twice in the seventh, aided by a hit batter, a single by DeBruin, three walks and a wild pitch.
Southern Illinois’ pitching staff has the most walks issued, but the Miners’ .266 team batting average, third-best in the league, makes up for some shortcomings.
Southern Illinois’ Carlos Mendez, the league leader in hits entering the game with 100, had a triple and two-run single in his first two at-bats.
After an off day Monday, the Slammers’ next-to-last home series starts Tuesday against the Frontier Greys.
“We’re not giving up,’’ Breyman said. “Just because you’re not in the playoff race doesn’t mean you give up and you play for nothing.’’
“You’ve got to have personal pride in your individual performance,’’ said Nick Akins, who’s hitting .292 with 17 homers. “You can’t let the score or what’s going on in the game dictate how you go about your business.
“Whatever is going on, you’ve just got to find a way to get through it and give your best effort.’’