Parker Osborne went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs.
Feb. 25, 2014
MARTIN, Tenn. – Southern Illinois extended its season-best winning streak to four games with a 6-2 victory over UT Martin Tuesday afternoon at Skyhawk Field. SIU (5-2) has now won four consecutive games over the Skyhawks (1-7), dating back to 2012. However, it was just the third SIU win in its last six trips to Martin.
“This is a place where we traditionally haven’t played very well, so we’re thrilled to get out of here with a W,” SIU Coach Ken Henderson said.
Matt Jones gave the Salukis the lead for good in the sixth inning when he broke a 2-2 tie with an RBI single to centerfield. Jake Welch scored the go-ahead run after reaching base on a drag bunt single and stealing second base.
“I thought that was probably the biggest part of the game,” Henderson said. “It was a 2-2 game, and momentum had gone their way. Then we got the lead back and got on a roll from there. Jake found a way to manufacture some things and get us going.”
The Salukis added some insurance in the top of the seventh with a three-run inning. Donny Duschinsky led off the inning with his third home run of the season to extend the lead to 4-2. After pinch hitter J.C. DeMuri singled through the right side, Welch was hit by an 0-2, two-out pitch to extend the inning. Welch then stole his second base of the game, and Parker Osborne hit a two-run single to stretch the lead to 6-2.
Osborne, a first-year Saluki, was two-for-four with two RBIs and a walk.
After expanding the lead, SIU called on Lee Weld, who threw three scoreless innings out of the bullpen to shut down any thoughts of a Skyhawks rally. He retired nine of the 10 hitters he faced, allowing a single walk.
“I just pounded the zone,” Weld said. “(Pitching coach P.J. Finigan) said they’d swing and miss if we just pounded the zone. I was able to get ahead and make my pitches.”
For the second game in a row, a Saluki freshman earned his first career win. Austin McPheron was the winner Tuesday. He threw an inning and two-thirds in relief and was not charged with any runs. He gave up the only two UTM hits of the game, both in the fourth inning.
UT Martin tied it at 2-2 with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth. Saluki starter Connor McFadden departed the game with one out in the inning after issuing a walk and hitting a batter. McPheron replaced McFadden and allowed consecutive RBI singles before getting out of the inning with the help of Cody Daily’s unassisted double play on a lineout to the first baseman.
It was one of many key defensive plays made by the Salukis. In the fifth inning, Will Farmer made a great sliding stop on a ground ball to third base, and Osborne ended the inning by running down a ball in deep right-centerfield.
“I thought it was our best defensive game by far,” Henderson said. “We made plays on the infield, and Parker Osborne ran down a couple balls in centerfield that I thought had a chance to get over his head. Jake Welch was outstanding as well.”
Making his second career start, McFadden allowed two runs in three and a third innings of work. He did not allow a hit, but he walked six Skyhawks. McFadden walked the bases loaded in the first inning but escaped without allowing any runs to keep SIU’s 2-0 lead in tact.
“Connor has great stuff,” Henderson said. “He didn’t give up any hits. If he can figure out a way to pound the zone, he’s going to be awfully special for us. He found a way to get out of the first inning and get us going a little bit.”
SIU spotted McFadden a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Osborne started the rally with a one-out double to the left-centerfield gap. After Matt Jones drew a walk, Ryan Casillas hit a slicing double to the right-centerfield gap to score Osborne. Casillas scored on Cody Daily’s RBI ground out.
Southern appeared to extend its lead to 3-0 in the top of the fourth when Matt Jones hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly. However, the Skyhawks successfully appealed that Will Farmer left third base early to end the inning.
The Salukis had numerous other chances to turn the game into a rout, stranding a season-high 13 runners, eight of them in scoring position.
“We had a lot of opportunities,” Henderson said. “I think our hitters were trying to do a little too much, and we got a little out of character but we put together some good ABs towards the end of the game when we had to.”