Early offensive surge helps Salukis to 10-3 win over Western Illinois

    Chad Whitmer improved to 2-0 with 3.2 scoreless innings in relief.

    Chad Whitmer improved to 2-0 with 3.2 scoreless innings in relief.
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    Feb. 21, 2014

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    THIBODAUX, La. – SIU pulled away from Western Illinois on its way to a 10-3 win over WIU in the Salukis’ first game of the Carmel Inn Showdown Friday afternoon at Ray E. Didier Field. Southern (3-2) built a 6-2 lead over the Leathernecks (0-3) after two innings and never looked back.

    The Salukis capitalized on miscues by the Leathernecks, who committed five errors, hit four batters and threw three wild pitches.

    “It was a strange game,” SIU Coach Ken Henderson said. “It was hard to get into a flow. There wasn’t a lot of rhythm to the game, but we did what we had to do, and we did a lot of good things.”

    After surrendering a run in the top of the first, the Salukis struck for four runs of their own in the bottom of the inning to take control of the game.

    “That was huge,” Henderson said. “Our offense came out and swung it well. Jake Welch led off with a double, and we did a good job from there.”

    After Welch’s double, Parker Osborne drew a walk, and Matt Jones drove home Welch to knot the game at 1-1. Ryan Casillas then hit a double down the left-field line to drive home Osborne and Welch, giving SIU a 3-1 lead before Western starter Tom Constand recorded an out. J.C. DeMuri tacked on another run with a two-out RBI single to score Casillas.

    “We got a couple guys on early for us,” Casillas said. “I hit the ball down the line, and we got the momentum going. Obviously, hitting is contagious, and there’s a lot of confidence in the dugout right now.”

    SIU tacked on two more runs in the second inning when Welch and Jones each hit an RBI double to extend the lead to 6-2. Welch scored four runs in the game, and Jones went two-for-two with two walks.

    “The most exciting thing is we got Jones and Welch going,” Henderson said. “We need to have them both offensively. Welch had a great game, and Jonesy hit a couple balls hard, so that was exciting.”

    Constand took the loss for Western. He recorded only four outs and surrendered six runs off seven hits.

    The Salukis finally put the game out of reach when they added three more unearned runs in the bottom of the seventh inning thanks to three walks and three hit batsmen to extend the lead to 10-3.

    Freshman Chad Whitmer threw three and two-thirds scoreless innings in relief to earn the win. The freshman relieved starter Sam Coonrod with one on and one out in the top of the fourth and the Salukis still in front 6-2. He allowed the inherited runner to score on a two-out RBI single and then retired 10 of the remaining 13 batters he faced.

    Whitmer has started his Saluki career with seven and a third scoreless innings and taken home a win in both of his outings.

    “For a freshman to do what he’s done in his last two outings, that’s certainly great to see,” Henderson said.

    Derek Fogel and Aaron Snyder each added a scoreless inning out of the bullpen. In the game, SIU relievers allowed five hits and struck out five Leathernecks in five and two-thirds scoreless innings of work.

    “It sounds like a broken record,” Henderson said, “but our bullpen was tremendous again. If we keep doing that out of the bullpen, it can be a lot of fun.”

    Coonrod allowed three runs, two of them earned, in three and a third innings of work. He departed in the fourth when he reached his pitch limit of 65. Coonrod was able to escape the first inning with only one run after allowing the first three batters of the game to reach with a couple singles and a walk.

    SIU will try to make it three wins in a row when it continues play in the Carmel Inn Showdown on Saturday against host Nicholls State at 6 p.m.