Feb. 10, 2006
By Jeff Honza
BOCA RATON, Fla. - Erik Alvarez's one-out single in the ninth drove home the go-ahead run, as Southern Illinois (1-0) scored seven runs in the last two innings to overcome a six-run deficit and stun No. 20 Florida Atlantic (1-3), 7-6, earlier tonight at FAU Stadium.
The win marked the first time SIU knocked off a Top-20 opponent in a season-opener under head coach Dan Callahan.
"It was a great win and a perfect example of what happens when you don't throw in the towel," said Callahan.
SIU trailed, 6-0, entering the seventh after FAU second-team Louisville Slugger All-American sophomore right-hander Mickey Storey scattered four hits and struck out nine in six shutout innings.
Two frames later and with his pitch count at 98, Storey left the game, and after that, the Dawgs destroyed a shaky Owl bullpen.
Preseason all-Missouri Valley Conference outfielder Kevin Koski's two-out double in the seventh started a Saluki ambush that accounted for 10 of its 14 hits in the last three innings.
Koski went hitless in his first three at-bats prior to the extra-base hit, which kept his hitting streak intact at 36 games. The hit also gave the Dawgs life, as four of SIU's next six hitters singled or doubled and scored.
Not to mention, Koski made a diving catch in center with two out and runners at first and second in the bottom of the eighth and led off the ninth with a single to right.
"It feels great," said Koski. "We started shaky, but everything fell into place at the end. I was fortunate to get a hit during my at-bat in the seventh. I was ahead 3-1 in the count and hit a fastball away."
Grant Gerrard doubled and Matt Brewer then singled to start the eighth. Following an Alvarez strikeout, Dean Cademartori singled home Gerrard and Hunter Harrigan knocked in both Cademartori and Brewer when he doubled down the left field line. Harrigan later touched home on a passed ball, and just like that, SIU cut the Owls lead to 6-4.
In his first start of the season, preseason all-conference left-hander Tyler Norrick struck out four in five strong innings, before freshman lefty Charlie Weber and junior right-hander Dusty Baker finished things out.
Weber, after walking his first two batters on eight-straight pitches in the sixth, settled down to catch three-straight FAU hitters looking on strikes.
Meanwhile, Baker (1-0) did not allow a hit or a run, and posted one strikeout in the last 1.2 innings before picking up his first win at SIU. He also pitched a one-two-three ninth that was capped by a circus catch by Brewer in foul territory along the third base line.
Offensively, Koski, Nathan Emrick, Gerrard, Cademartori and Harrigan each had two hits to lead the Salukis.
SIU also committed four errors in the game, as four of FAU's runs were unearned.
SIU and FAU resume their three-game series tomorrow at noon, CST.