Salukis roll to consecutive wins over Jacksonville State

    Ken Henderson congratulates Ryan Casillas on his first home run as a Saluki.

    Ken Henderson congratulates Ryan Casillas on his first home run as a Saluki.
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    Feb. 23, 2013

    Box Score |  Photo Gallery 

    Game 1 Box ScoreGame 2 Box Score |  Photo Gallery

    JACKSONVILLE, Ala. – The Saluki offense mashed 30 hits en route to a pair of high scoring victories over Jacksonville State (2-5) Saturday afternoon at Rudy Abbott Field. SIU (4-2) took the first game, which was suspended after seven innings on Friday, by a final of 12-6 and won the second game 12-4. The Salukis have now won three games in a row. In the two games, Matt Jones drove in 10 runs, five in each game.

    Offense was the story as the Salukis scored in 12 of the 18 innings played.

    “It a great day offensively today,” SIU Coach Ken Henderson said. “To finish the first game the way we did and then come out and have 17 hits in the second game was great. And there weren’t a lot of cheap hits either. They were good ABs and balls that were hit well.”

    In the first game of the series, Southern Illinois built a comfortable lead in early innings and held onto the lead the entire way.

    Jones doubled and scored in the third inning to give SIU a 3-1 lead. After Rennie Troggio and Jake Welch reached on consecutive infield singles to start the fourth, Jones delivered another double to score them both. Two batters later, Donny Duschinsky drove home Jones with a sacrifice fly to put SIU in control with a 6-1 lead. Jones had three doubles in the game and recorded six hits in 11 at-bats in the first two games of the series.

    “Like (hitting coach Ryan) Strain was saying last week, once you get a few hits, hitting is contagious,” Jones said. “A couple people strung together some hits, and all of a sudden, we put up 12 runs in both games.”

    Jacksonville State battled back with a single run in the fourth and another in the fifth to cut the lead to 6-3.  Both teams plated a pair of runs in the seventh inning to leave SIU with an 8-5 lead before the game was suspended due to impending rain.

    When the game resumed on Saturday, JSU scored a run in the bottom of the eighth to cut SIU’s lead to 8-6, but the Salukis responded with four runs in the top of the ninth to put the game back out of reach.

    SIU starter Sam Coonrod was not at his sharpest on Friday, expending 80 pitches and issuing a career-high six walks in four innings of work. It was also the only start of his career in which he did not record a strikeout. However, he was able to pitch out of trouble, allowing just two runs off one hit. He left with a 6-2 lead but didn’t last long enough to qualify for a win.

    “He just never got comfortable on the mound,” Henderson said. “He had good stuff. He just didn’t have good command. But he battled hard and got us through four innings. That’s a credit to him to go out there without great feel and give us what he had.”

    Brad Drust started the fifth inning for the Salukis and allowed one run off four hits to take home his first win of the season.

    Aaron Snyder pitched the final two innings of the first game on Saturday to nail down the save. He allowed a run off two hits in the eighth and then returned for a hitless ninth inning.

    “Snyder did a phenomenal job,” Henderson said. “We decided to use him in the eighth and see what happened. He did a great job and saved our bullpen for the second game.”

    Ryan Casillas got SIU’s offense going Friday with a leadoff home run in the second inning. It was his first homer in a Saluki uniform as well as the team’s first of the young season. The next batter, Duschinsky, reached on an error. He moved to second when Austin Montgomery singled. Then Cody Daily singled Duschinsky home to give SIU a 2-0 lead.

    All nine Saluki starters scored in the game.

    In the second game, the Salukis picked up where they left off, quickly building a 3-0 lead in the first two innings and plating a run in each of the first five innings.

    Jake Welch led off the game with a walk and moved to third when Ryan Rosthenhausler perfectly executed a hit-and-run. Welch scored on Jones’ RBI single, and Rosthenhausler came home on Austin Montgomery’s RBI groundout. That gave SIU a 2-0 first inning lead.

    Welch doubled home Nick Johnson in the top of the second, and Cody Daily doubled and scored on Luke Mottashed’s single in the third to give SIU a 4-0 lead.

    The Gamecocks clawed their way back into the game with a pair of runs in the third inning to cut it to 4-2, but SIU’s offense kept on rolling. Jones and Montgomery each had an RBI single in the fourth to extend the lead to 6-2, and Jones hit a two-run single in the fifth to give SIU an 8-2 lead.

    “One of the most impressive things of the day,” Henderson said, “was in the second game they scored in three different innings, and all three times we went out and matched it or increased the lead, so every time they scored we answered it.”

    Cody Forsythe picked up his first win of the season and the 16th of his career. He allowed three runs off six hits and struck out five in six innings of work, the longest outing by a Saluki this season.

    “I pounded the strike zone early,” Forsythe said. “It got a little rocky there in the middle, but I was able to make some good pitches. I had a good quick sixth inning to get me through. Overall it was a good day, and Luke called a good game.”

    He threw 75 pitches through five innings and returned for a seven-pitch sixth inning.

    “Cody was good. We have to continue to extend him and get his pitch count up the same as we do with Coonrod,” Henderson said. “That’s why we left him out there for the sixth inning.”

    With SIU leading 8-3 in the seventh inning, Jacksonville State had an opportunity to get back in the game. In Anthony Shimkus’ first inning of work, he allowed a leadoff single to pinch hitter Adam Miller. Miller scored on Griff Gordon’s two-out single, cutting SIU’s lead to 8-4. A walk and infield single loaded the bases and brought the tying run to the plate, but Shimkus got Andrew Bishop to pop out to Rosthenhausler at shortstop to end the inning.

    “It got a little scary there for a minute,” Henderson said. “We had done good things all day at the plate, and then looked up and that’s the situation. But he made a good pitch, got the guy to pop up and get out of the inning, and we rolled from there.”

    Montgomery led off the eighth inning with his first home run of the season to give the Salukis a 9-4 lead. SIU then iced the victor with three more runs in the ninth.

    The day was loaded with outstanding performances. Four Salukis had multiple hits in the first game, and four Salukis had multiple hits in the second game. Montgomery had four hits in the second game and drove in four runs. Over the two games, he had seven hits in 11 at-bats. 

    “Both games here so far we’ve looked like the hitters that we’re capable of being,” Henderson said. “Credit Coach Strain and Coach Judkins. Those guys worked extremely hard this week along with our players making adjustments and working on things, so they deserve a lot of credit because we’ve looked like a different ballclub so far this weekend.”

    On Sunday, the Salukis will try to sweep the Gamecocks for the second year in a row when Derek Fogel takes the mound at 1 p.m.