By Scott Gierman
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – A five-run seventh inning rally turned a tight game into another blowout as the Southern Illinois baseball team cruised to an 8-3 victory over Western Kentucky Sunday afternoon at Nick Denes Field. It was the Salukis’ second consecutive victory as they won two out of three games for the second weekend in a row.
SIU (4-3) batted around against WKU (2-5) in the seventh inning, scoring five runs off five singles. The rally was highlighted when Austin Montgomery, Derek Trovillion and Brian Bajer hit three consecutive RBI singles.
With a safe lead, SIU starter Nathan Dorris settled in and let his defense make plays behind him. He allowed two runs off nine hits in seven innings of work to improve his record to 2-0 in two starts. It was the longest outing by a Saluki pitcher this season.
"I didn’t have a lot working for me today," Dorris said, "but the defense made plays all game to back me up. I think that’s the key to a good team. Everyone was helping out."
Chris Serritella carried the offense early for the Salukis. Serritella put SIU on the board in the fourth inning when he pulled a ball over the right field wall for his first home run of the season. That cut the deficit to 2-1. It was Serritella’s 18th career homer.
"(Serritella) got us going," Henderson said. "We were struggling offensively and all of a sudden he hit a home run, and that’s a big time home run into the wind. That’s probably the best swing he’s taken all year, and it got us on the board and got us going, and hitting can be contagious."
Serritella struck again in the top of the fifth inning with a two-strike single through the left side of the infield with the bases loaded to put SIU on top, 3-2. He finished the day with three hits and went 8-for-13 in the three-game series.
"I was just not trying to do too much," Serritella said. "I worked with Coach Strain and Hendu last week, just getting back to basics and just trying to barrel balls up. I think I did a good job of that this weekend. I was getting my pitches to hit, and I wasn’t missing them."
For the first time in the series, the Hilltoppers were the first team on the board. They scored a run on a ground out in each of the first two innings to take a 2-0 lead after the second frame. However, each time they had the table set for a big inning. After the second inning, Dorris scattered four hits in five scoreless innings.
Tyler Dray threw the last two innings for the Salukis, allowing one run off four hits.
The Salukis outscored WKU 13-6 in the final two games of the series after dropping the first game in 13 innings.
"The thing I’m most proud of is after Friday’s loss, the way we lost that game to bounce back and win the next two games shows a great deal of character and the make up of our ballclub," Henderson said.
SIU will be back in action on Wednesday at Belmont. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.