Feb. 23, 2006
By Jeff Honza
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Kevin Koski hit safely in his first four at-bats en route to going 4-for-5 with two runs scored, a double and career-high four RBI to lead Southern Illinois (5-1) to its fourth-straight win, as the Salukis beat Central Michigan (2-1), 11-8, earlier today in their home-opener.
Koski singled twice and had two RBI in the bottom of the first, where SIU scored seven runs after falling behind, 1-0. After that, he led off the fourth with a single to left. An inning later, he doubled home a pair of runs to key a four-run fifth.
Koski's four hits on the day boosted his season average from .500 to .552. He has gone a scorching 7-for-11 with five runs, six RBI, one double, a triple and a walk over his last two games.
"I thought we did another good job at the top of our lineup," said Saluki head coach Dan Callahan. "The bottom of our lineup, namely Scott Elmendorf and Tyler Lairson also created opportunities for us."
Six Saluki hits, including RBI-singles by Hunter Harrigan, Matt Brewer, Koski and Nathan Emrick led to five runs, while an error and sacrifice fly plated two more to give SIU a 7-1 lead after the Dawgs fell behind early.
After adding another run in the third, the bottom half of CMU's lineup got to Saluki starter Tyler Norrick in the fourth.
The Chippewas' six through nine hitters consisting of Kurt Lauscher, James Teas, Noah Lankford and Brian Campbell began the fourth with three hits and a walk. All four would later score, and just like that, CMU pulled to within, 7-6.
Starting pitching was shaky for both teams, as CMU right-hander Ty Dunham (1-1) gave up 12 hits and 11 runs in 4.1 innings, while Norrick scattered nine hits and allowed six runs in 3.1 frames.
"I've seen Tyler (Norrick) better than he was today," said Callahan. "He's not going to pitch like that in the future. He just didn't have a good day."
Dunham ran into trouble again when he was touched for four more runs after giving up hits to five of the first Salukis he faced in the fifth. After SIU pushed its lead to 11-6, that was it for Dunham.
Once Dunham exited the game, both teams' bullpens squared off in a showdown the rest of the way.
CMU relievers Josh Ruhlman and Mike Kirschenheiter limited SIU to just two hits in 3.2 scoreless innings down the stretch.
Garner struggled in the eighth, where he was charged with the only two runs by the Saluki pen after giving up a triple and back-to-back walks. He also balked in the inning, as CMU narrowed the gap to 11-8.
SIU went to Wells and Baker next, who teamed up for two shutout innings.
Wells picked up Garner in the eighth by recording a strikeout and two fly ball outs, before Baker pitched a one-two-three ninth. Baker threw nine strikes, which led to one groundball out and two Ks, as he earned his first career save.
"Dusty did a great job and you could tell he wanted to be out there in that situation," said Callahan.
Snyder moved to 2-0 on the season after striking out four and giving up four hits in 3.2 scoreless innings.
SIU had 14 hits, marking the fourth-straight game it has put up double-digits in the hit column.
Koski paved the way with four, while Emrick, Alvarez and Scott Elmendorf each had two. Lairson had a hit and two runs scored, as well.
J.T. Jones went a perfect 3-for-3 with two runs scored to top CMU, who also had 14 hits.
Another bright spot of the day was the Saluki defense.
After committing 16 errors in its first four games this season, SIU has only committed two in its last two games. Both of those miscues were by Saluki outfielders.
SIU resumes its series against the Chippewas tomorrow at 2 p.m., CST.