Baseball drops season-opener to Stetson, 5-4

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    Feb. 9, 2007

    Box Score

    By Jeff Honza

    DeLAND, Fla. - Kevin Johnson went 2-for-3 with two RBI and closer Robbie Elsemiller fought off a late rally in Stetson University's (1-0) 5-4 win over Southern Illinois (0-1) earlier tonight in both teams' season-opener at Melching Field.

    Johnson, the third-straight true freshman to start at shortstop for the Hatters, smashed a two-RBI double as part of a three-run sixth inning.

    SIU starter Jordan Powell left the game after SU loaded the bases with one out in the sixth. Daniel Wells then took the mound to face Johnson.

    Hitting out of the nine-hole, Johnson belted Wells' third delivery to the right center gap to score Josh Clendenin and Adam Tindle. Shane Jordan's sacrifice fly followed to give the Hatters a 5-1 lead.

    That inning proved to be the difference, as the Salukis threatened late in the game.

    SIU loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth inning when Mark Kelly knocked in Scott Elmendorf and Dean Cademartori on a single to right.

    Immediately after Kelly's hit, SU went to Elsemiller.

    Elsemiller, who ranked ninth in the nation in saves a year ago, forced Tyler Choate to hit into a 1-6-3 double play, but Adam Hills scored, pulling the Dawgs to within a run (5-4). The inning, however, ended when Aaron Roberts grounded out on the next play.



    SIU had one last chance to catch the Hatters when Michael Finigan and Kevin Koski hit back-to-back singles to give the Salukis runners at first and third with one out in the ninth.

    Elmendorf laid down a bunt to the right of the pitcher's mound on the ensuing play, but Elsemiller threw him out at first. With two away, Dean Cademartori grounded to second for the final out of the game.

    "Nine times out of 10 Scott can execute that play," said Saluki head coach Dan Callahan. "It was a push bunt safety squeeze and he didn't get it past the pitcher. It was just one of those things that didn't work. That's baseball."

    Corey Kluber gave up three hits and one run in five innings to get the win for SU.

    Elsemiller took over in the eighth and allowed two hits in two scoreless innings to hold the Salukis at bay.

    Powell (0-1) suffered his first loss of the season after giving up six hits, striking out three and walking two in 5.1 innings.

    Offensively, both teams had eight hits on the night.

    Kevin Koski, Mark Kelly and Michael Finigan each had two hits to lead the Dawgs.

    "We didn't have enough quality at-bats early on," said Callahan. "It was tough to come back, but we put ourselves in a good position to win late in the game."

    SIU resumes its three-game series against the Hatters at 4 p.m., CST, Saturday. Right-hander Cody Adams will start on the mound for the Salukis.

    Notes: The Hatters have won six season-openers in a row, four of those were against SIU (1996, 1999, 2005, 2007)...Dan Callahan fell to 3-10 all-time in season-openers as Southern's head coach...The Salukis have never won a season-opener in four tries against Stetson...Tonight's loss marked SIU's fourth-straight dating back to May 20, 2006...The Dawgs have dropped eight of their last nine games since the start of the Evansville series (May 12-14, 2006)...A total of eight players made their first career starts tonight...Adam Hills (DH), Tyler Choate (1B), Aaron Roberts (RF), Lou Johanns (3B) and Michael Finigan (SS) made their SIU debuts...Casey Frawley (2B), Justin Bass (LF), Josh Clendenin (C) started for SU.