March 2, 2012
By Scott Gierman
DELAND, Fla. - Wes Neece's fourth hit of the day gave the Southern Illinois baseball team a walk-off win over Georgia State on Friday afternoon. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, Neece hit a fly ball over GSU center fielder Kody Adams' head, and it bounced off Adams' glove as the winning run crossed the plate to give SIU (5-4) the 5-4 win over GSU (5-5) in the first game of the Brighthouse Invitational Friday afternoon at Melching Field at Conrad Park.
"I've had my fair share of being on the other side of ones like that so it's great to come out and win that one," Neece said. "That's huge, especially going into tomorrow night against Stetson, that's a big confidence booster for us so that's a big win."
The Saluki defense set the stage for the ninth inning dramatics in the top of the inning when Nick Johnson recovered from a diving attempt in right field to deliver a perfect throw to the cut-off man, and Chris Serritella relayed the ball to catcher Brian Bajer in time to tag Panther catcher Joel Van Asch and keep the game tied at 4-4.
"That was a great job by Nick," SIU Coach Ken Henderson said. "That's the ballgame right there. If Georgia State scores that run, then we'd be completely demoralized, but as it is, we came back with all the momentum at that point."
Tyler Dray pitched the last two innings for the Salukis and picked up his first win of the year after allowing the tying run to score in the top of the eighth inning. The Panthers Jerry Stuckey entered the game to start the ninth and gave up the game winner for his second loss of the season.
"We put ourselves in a position to win," Henderson said. "We had some opportunities early that we didn't take advantage of, but our effort was tremendous and we battled all day."
Starting pitcher Cody Forsythe was one of the reasons SIU was in the game. He allowed three runs off six hits in six innings and left in line for the victory. Forsythe stranded a runner in each inning he pitched. He had a big strikeout to end the fourth with the bases loaded to keep the Salukis down by only a score of 2-1.
"I can't say enough about Cody Forsythe," Henderson said. "He did not have his good stuff today, but he did what good pitchers do. They find a way to win, and they find a way to keep you in the ballgame when they don't have their good stuff, and he did not today, but he still battled hard for six innings and gave us a great opportunity to win the ballgame."
Georgia State starter Jake Dyer was also able to escape multiple jams after allowing a run in the first inning. He had only allowed two runs through five innings before leaving with one out in the sixth. He was charged with four total runs off 11 hits.
Both teams struck for a run in the first inning. Georgia State's Jonathan Kolowich plated the Panthers' first run with a first inning sacrifice fly. The Salukis responded in their half of the inning when Jake Welch led off with a double and scored on Jordan Sivertsen's two-out single. The hit extended Sivertsen's hitting streak to nine games, a new career high.
Sam Coonrod tossed the seventh inning for SIU. He extended his scoreless streak to eight innings to start his collegiate career.
SIU will continue play the Brighthouse Invitational on Saturday at 6 p.m. Central Time against host school Stetson University. Cameron Maldonado is the scheduled starter for the Salukis.