Updated: July 17, 2013 7:08AM
The Windy City ThunderBolts have heated up offensively over the last week, but Friday night they looked more like the team that struggled mightily to score for the first three weeks of the season.
A lack of clutch hits was again the biggest problem, as the T-Bolts managed eight hits but could not push a run across in a 3-0 series-opening loss to the Southern Illinois Miners in front of 1,997 fans at Standard Bank Stadium in Crestwood.
Windy City fell to 9-17.
“Simply put, when we get guys on base, we need to drive them home,” T-Bolts manager Ron Biga said. “I hate to say the same old story, but that’s the way it is.”
The bright spot for Windy City was Dyllon Nuernberg. Charged with the gigantic task of filling Mike Recchia’s spot in the starting rotation after Recchia was signed by the White Sox, Nuernberg (0-1) was terrific in his first professional start.
He allowed two earned runs on six hits over seven innings, striking out six.
“It felt pretty good,” Nuernberg said. “I just wish I would have got the win.
“I tried to take the approach of every inning as a fresh start just like when I pitched out of the bullpen. I just tried to get ahead and get an out within the first three pitches so I could go deeper into the game.”
Preston Vancil, a notorious T-Bolts killer over his four seasons in the Frontier League, was even better.
Vancil (3-0) danced out of danger all night, pitching around eight hits to toss 62/3 scoreless frames.
The Miners (13-12) used three straight two-out hits to strike first in the third, Carlos Mendez producing an RBI single.
Ken Gregory’s triple drove in Gerardo Avila in the sixth to up the lead to two.
“(Nuernberg) pounded the zone,” Biga said. “He threw strikes. That (triple) was the only hard-hit ball he gave up all night. He did a hell of a job.”
The T-Bolts, meanwhile, hit into two costly double plays over the first two innings, left two on in the third and were especially hurt by two late missed chances.
In the sixth, Ryan Soares (2-for-4) failed, much to the dismay of Biga, to go first-to-third on Zach Aakhus’ one-out single. Soares was then caught in a rundown after Chad Cregar struck out and was tagged out to end the inning.
Windy City loaded the bases in the seventh after two-out singles from C.J. Gillman and Adam Davis (2-for-3) and a walk to Nathan Pittman, but Matt Sergey struck out Soares to end the threat.