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    Feb. 18, 2007

    Box Score

    By Jeff Honza

    HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Illinois University (3-3) used a pair of two-out RBI-hits in the top of the 13th inning beat Louisville (1-2), 4-3, in a wild one at the Coca-Cola Southern Mississippi Baseball Classic.

    SIU only had six hits and left 10 runners on base, but managed to take down a veteran Cardinal team with excellent pitching and clutch defense.

    "I loved the way we persevered. Despite the fact we couldn't get a lot going offensively, we made some great plays on defense when we had to, and our pitching was phenomenal," said Saluki head coach Dan Callahan.

    After being one-hit through the first eight innings of the game, SIU entered the ninth down, 2-1, when Tyler Choate drew a one-out walk to breathe life into the Dawgs.

    On the next play, Michael Finigan hit into a fielder's choice, but Cardinal second baseman Greg Del George's throw pulled shortstop Chris Cates off the bag.

    With runners at first and second, pinch-hitter Chris Crank moved the runners along with a single. Aaron Roberts then knocked in Choate on a sacrifice fly to tie the game.

    Kevin Koski singled after that, but Finigan was gunned down at the plate, leaving the score deadlocked at 2-2.

    U of L had the winning run on second with no outs in its turn in the ninth, but came up empty when Saluki relievers Daniel Wells and Kyle Catto combined tor three consecutive outs to send the game to extra innings.



    That proved to be just one of many chances for the Cardinals, who stranded a total of nine baserunners (five in scoring position) in the final eight innings of the game.

    U of L had a two golden opportunities to put the Salukis away in extra innings, but stranded a runner on third in each of those tries.

    Logan Johnson reached on a base hit to center and went to third on a pinch-hit single by Jeff Arnold with two away in the 10th. But, that rally ended when Catto got Pete Rodriguez to ground into a fielder's choice.

    Boomer Whiting was hit by a pitch, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch with no outs in the 11th. Brad Lawrence, however, forced Derrick Alfonso to hit into a huge 6U-3 inning-ending double play.

    Two innings later, freshmen Choate and Finigan sent the Saluki dugout into an uproar.

    With two outs and a runner on second in the top of the 13th, Choate hit a fly ball to Whiting in center. Whiting lost the ball in the sun, and as a result, the play was ruled an RBI-double for Choate.

    Shortly after Dean Cademartori scored the go-ahead run, Choate came home on Finigan's bloop single to right to give SIU a 4-2 advantage.

    U of L answered with one more run in the 13th, but that was it, as Lawrence recorded back-to-back strikeouts to halt all hopes of a Cardinal comeback.

    Lawrence (1-0), one of six Salukis to take the mound on the day, earned his first career win after striking out two in 2.2 innings.

    Kenny Barnett (0-1) was charged with the loss. He gave up two hits and two runs, and walked one in the 13th.

    SIU junior left-hander Shawn Joy and U of L freshman lefty Justin Marks hooked up in an outstanding pitcher's duel before the bullpens took over.

    Joy, despite giving up doubles to the Cardinals lead off hitter in each of the first and second innings, beared down to retire the next 14 of 17 hitters he faced. He recorded four strikeouts and did not issue a walk in seven innings. Joy also went without allowing an earned run for his second consecutive start.

    Meanwhile, Marks struck out six and threw four innings of no-hit baseball. After committing an error, plunking back-to-back Saluki hitters and walking in a run in the first, he settled down to retire 13 of the next 14. Marks gave up only one hit and an unearned run in five innings of work.

    Kevin Koski had two hits and Choate posted a pair of RBI to pave the way for SIU offensively. Koski (235) moved to seventh on SIU's all-time career hits list, surpassing both Bert Newman (233, 1973-76) and Tim Kratochvil (234, 1993-96).

    Daniel Burton went 4-for-6 to lead the Cardinals, who out-hit the Dawgs, 14-6. U of L stranded a dozen baserunners, as well.

    SIU returns to Carbondale for 16 of its next 20 games. The Salukis host Central Michigan in their home-opening series on Feb. 23-25. First pitch of the three-game set is Friday at 2 p.m., CST.

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