March 3, 2006
By Jeff Honza
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Southern Illinois University (10-1) was out-hit for just the third time this season, but made some big pitches and defensive plays down the stretch to beat Northern Illinois (2-5), 7-4, earlier today at Abe Martin Field.
"I'd like to see us become more consistent on defense, but there were some good plays that kept us in the game," said Saluki head coach Dan Callahan. "We struggled some offensively, but had some clutch hits, and pitched well enough to win a close game."
The win marked SIU's ninth in a row, as the Dawgs remained undefeated (5-0) at home.
SIU had put up 10 or more hits in eight-straight games, but today it had six, marking only the second time this season the Salukis' hit total fell below double figures.
Scott Simon's two-out solo home run put NIU on the board first, but SIU responded with a pair of runs thanks to an RBI-single by Tyler Lairson and a sacrifice fly by Kevin Koski to take a 2-1 lead in the second.
An inning later, Simon came up with another big hit, this time a two-RBI single, which regained a 3-2 edge for the Huskies.
SIU then busted the game open with a four-run third.
After that, pitching and defense took over.
Pitching wise, starters Jordan Powell and Brian Smith settled down to hook up for a nice duel in the middle innings.
Powell shutout the Huskies in the fourth and fifth innings and pitched out of a two-out bases loaded jam with a big strikeout in the fifth.
Defensively, SIU made three outstanding plays, which played a big factor in the win.
First, Dean Cademartori made a diving catch to rob Pat Minogue of a possible one-out RBI -double in the fourth. Cademartori, who was shaken up on the play, stayed in the game.
In the sixth, Anthony Venetucci led off with a solo home run to narrow SIU's lead to 7-4, and Minogue followed with a single to left. But, Lairson turned a huge 6-unassisted-3 double play to help get the Dawgs out of the inning.
Two innings later, Harrigan doubled up the Huskies with runners on first and second after NIU hit back-to-back singles to start the eighth. Venetucci popped up to Harrigan, who then threw out Mike Couwenhoven at first after he tried to advance on the play.
Powell, who improved to 3-1, scattered eight hits and allowed four runs in six innings. He also recorded four strikeouts.
NIU had two runners on with two outs against Baker in the ninth, but the Olney Community College transfer got Jesse Seykora to ground out to end the game.
Baker, who earned his team-leading fourth save, is now 1-0 with four saves in his last five relief appearances.
SIU and NIU resume their series tomorrow at 1 p.m., CST. If SIU wins, Dan Callahan will get his 300th career victory as the Salukis' head coach.
Senior ace left-hander Tyler Norrick has some inflammation in his rotator cuff, but it is structually sound and he could miss up to three weeks.