March 1, 2006
By Jeff Honza
MURRAY, Ky. - Grant Gerrard and Ryan Enata each posted career-highs of four hits, while Matt Brewer and Dean Cademartori launched two-run homers to lead Southern Illinois University (9-1) to its eighth-straight victory. The Salukis edged Murray State (0-6), 8-7, earlier today in a wild one at Reagan Field.
SIU, who posted its second-straight one-run win, led 8-1 after scoring five runs in the first and three in the fourth. Those two innings proved to be the difference, as the Dawgs ended up stranding 15 baserunners.
"I thought we gave some at-bats away and that we had an opportunity to put Murray State away in the first four innings," said Saluki head coach Dan Callahan. "With the way things ended up, I was just glad we held on."
Every Saluki came to the plate in a disasterous first inning for MSU right-hander Matt Scalfani.
Gerrard then doubled home Koski, while Emrick scored on a sacrifice fly by Hunter Harrigan. Shortly after Gerrard touched home on a wild pitch, Cademartori drew the third walk against Scalfani.
Ahead 2-0 in the count, Brewer followed with his first home run of the season to give SIU an early 5-0 lead.
Scalfani lasted just two-thirds of an inning, where he allowed four hits and five runs to go along with three walks. He also threw 31 pitches, 14 were strikes.
With Emrick already on base via a bunt single, Cademartori went yard for the second time this year to ignite the rally. Brewer and Scott Elmendorf followed with back-to-back hits, before Ryan Enata's single plated Brewer.
The clutch piece of hitting turned out to be huge.
"Good teams score runs with two outs," said Callahan. "As much as I'm disappointed in all the scoring opportunities we squandered, I'm happy with the damage we did with two outs."
MSU, who slowly got back into the game with a run in each of the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, gave SIU a big scare in the ninth.
Pinch-hitter Chaz Ebert reached on an error and Brett Mullins singled to start the Thoroughbreds' final at-bat. With one out following a fielder's choice, Tyler Pittman knocked in a pair of runs on a double to center.
Brewer, who struck out two as part of a one-two-three eighth, started the ninth, but left the game after Pittman's double.
Freshman Dusty Baker then took over and struck out Michael Perconte on three pitches for the second out of the inning. However, on the next play, Brett Wilson singled to cut the lead to 8-7.
Needless to say, Baker kept his poise and battled back to catch Lincoln Kent looking on strikes for the final out of the game.
One of SIU's most pleasant surprises as of late, Baker earned three saves and a win in four-straight relief appearances.
Freshman left-hander Charlie Weber made his first collegiate start and earned the first win of his career after striking out four, allowing five hits and giving up two runs in five innings. Weber also held the `Breds scoreless in the first, third and fourth frames.
"It feels good to get my first win," said Weber. "I struggled early, but settled down, especially in the last few innings, where I felt like I really got control of my curve ball."
Callahan also commented on Weber's performance.
"I thought Charlie did a good job competing without having his best stuff," added Callahan. "We're very excited to see him get his first college win."
SIU, who remained perfect (5-0) when scoring first on its opponents, registered 14 hits, six of which went for extra bases.
Gerrard had half of those extra base hits, as he finished at 4-for-6 with three doubles, a run scored and one RBI. The four hits surpassed his previous career-high of three, which came at Stetson on Feb. 12, 2005.
Enata, who had no more than two hits in a game prior to today, went a near-perfect 4-for-5 with a run scored.
"We got eight hits from Grant and Ryan today," said Callahan. "It's nice to see Grant rack up some hits and I'm happy with the way Ryan played in his first start of the season."
Brewer rounded out SIU's multiple-hit performers with two hits, including his 15th career home run.
SIU returns home to host Northern Illinois in a three-game series beginning Friday at 2 p.m., CST.
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