Feb. 19, 2012
By Scott Gierman
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Southern Illinois baseball team survived a wild game to take a 16-12 victory over North Florida Sunday afternoon at Dusty Rhodes Field at Harmon Stadium. The Salukis (2-1) never trailed and relied on the big inning to win their second in a row. This marks the second year in a row that the Dawgs have begun the season by winning two of three in the opening series.
“It’s a great way to start,” SIU coach Ken Henderson said. “To go on the road and beat a team that’s way ahead of us weather wise. It feels good too win two out of three and head home with a series win. We came in here to try to win games, and overall I’d say it was a productive weekend.”
Nathan Dorris (1-0) picked up the win in his first career appearance with the Dawgs. He allowed three runs in five and a third innings and struck out six.
The Salukis delivered the knockout blow with a seven-run rally in the eighth inning. Austin Montgomery drove in two of his five RBIs in the inning, and Brian Bajer capped the rally with a three-run double to the gap in left-center field.
However, the Osprey countered with four runs in the bottom of the ninth before SIU finished off the victory.
“It’s never fun with the wind blowing out that hard,” Henderson said, “No lead is safe. You get a couple guys on and blow a ball out. Even with an eight or nine run lead late in the game, you never know. That’s why it’s important that our offense did a great job of continuing to expand the lead. We got a big lead, and we didn’t sit on it. Those runs we scored in the seventh ended up being crucial.”
The Salukis scored two runs in the first inning when Austin Montgomery delivered a bases loaded single to right field, scoring Jake Welch and Donny Duschinsky. Montgomery added another RBI single in the seventh. The game remained at 2-0 until the fifth inning.
SIU took advantage of the Ospreys’ mistakes in the fifth inning with four unearned runs. After Jordan Sivertsen drew a bases loaded walk, Brock Harding lined one to right field. The ball rolled under right fielder Tyler Marincov’s glove and rolled all the way to the wall. That allowed three runs to score, upping the Salukis lead to 6-0.
Dorris was brilliant early before surrendering a couple home runs with the wind blowing out in the middle innings. He allowed just one hit in the first four innings when Bryan Mathews hit a flyball into the jet stream and over the center field wall to cut the Salukis‘ lead to 6-1.
“Dorris was outstanding,” Henderson said. “To throw in those conditions. That was not easy to pitch. The wind was blowing out extremely hard, and he threw up four zeros in a row. He did a great job for us and gave our offense a chance to build the lead up.”
Eight of UNF’s 12 runs came via the home run. Six of SIU’s starters recorded multiple hits in the game. Montgomery and Brock Harding led the way with three hits apiece. Harding drove in two runs.
“It seemed like everybody got in the flow today,” Montgomery said. “16 runs is quite a bit, and I feel like everybody has a lot more confidence than we had two days ago.”
The Salukis will be back in action on Tuesday when they travel to Tennessee Martin for a 2 p.m. game.