Aaron Snyder tossed two hitless innings to pick up the win.
Feb. 15, 2013
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – SIU broke a seventh inning tie and held on for a 5-4 win over UAB to open the season Friday afternoon at Young Memorial Field. The win marks Southern’s first Opening Day victory since 2009.
After falling behind 4-0 in the third inning, SIU held UAB scoreless the rest of the way.
“It was a good team win,” closer Todd Eaton said. “It’s always important to get that first win early.”
Southern took a 5-4 lead in the top of the seventh inning when Rennie Troggio drew a bases loaded walk. Ryan Casillas led off the inning with a double down the left field line. It was the only hit of the inning as UAB pitcher Cory Eller issued a two-out walk and his replacement Chase Mallard hit Nick Johnson to load the bases.
The Saluki bullpen erased any thoughts of a Blazer comeback as the pen combined for four scoreless innings, allowing just two hits. Aaron Snyder took the win, tossing two hitless innings in relief.
Tyler Dray pitched a scoreless eighth, and Eaton pitched a scoreless ninth inning to earn the save. With 11 career saves, the junior moved into fourth place on SIU’s all-time list.
“The bullpen was outstanding,” SIU Coach Ken Henderson said. “That was one of the areas that we hoped and we knew we needed to improve. Snyder was outstanding for two, and Dray and Eaton were phenomenal. They were dominating."
The Salukis quickly responded in the top of the fourth with a one-out rally. Rennie Troggio’s two-run single got SIU on the board and cut the deficit to 4-2. Ryan Rosthenhausler followed with a two-run double that dropped just inside the line in shallow left field and knotted the game at 4-4. That knocked starter Turner Lee out of the game.
“We wasted some opportunities and gave away some ABs away early,” Henderson said, “but the most important part of the game was the offense coming right back and scoring four after we gave up four.”
Starter Sam Coonrod lasted five innings in his season debut for Southern Illinois. All four of his runs and four of the six hits against him came in the third inning. The sophomore struck out the side in the first inning and matched a career high with seven punchouts in the game.
“I felt alright,” Coonrod said. “I just threw too many fastballs in the third. They weren’t up in the zone, just too many predictable pitches. But it was important that we held them from there.”
Eller took the loss for UAB, allowing one run in three and a third innings of work. Blazers starter Turner Lee allowed four runs in three and a third innings. He surrendered seven hits and hit two batters.
The Saluki defense was also much improved from a year ago. SIU did not commit any errors and turned a pair of inning-ending double plays.
“Having no errors on Opening Day is pretty special,” Henderson said. “We turned a couple big double plays. When you get good pitching and make the plays on defense, you can win a lot of games.”
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