Freshman Connor McFadden allowed two earned runs in 5.0 innings to earn his first collegiate win.
March 5, 2014
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A five-run sixth inning lifted Southern Illinois to its third-consecutive win, a 7-6 victory over Belmont Wednesday evening at E.S. Rose Park. With the win, the Salukis (8-3) have now won seven of their last eight games. SIU overcame an early deficit on a blustery day with temperatures dipping into the 30s after the Bruins (6-6) took a 3-0 lead in the second inning.
“I’m very proud of our toughness,” SIU Coach Ken Henderson said. “We’re learning how to win and learning how to battle through some adversity. The conditions were not great, but we battled through it and found a way to win again.”
Southern Illinois took a 7-4 lead with a five-run sixth inning. It was the Salukis’ largest offensive output in a single inning this season. With SIU trailing 4-2, Cody Daily led off the inning and reached on an error. After a groundout, J.C. DeMuri singled, and Ryan Sabo walked to load the bases for Will Farmer. Farmer grounded out to score Daily and cut the deficit to one run. Jake Welch and Parker Osborne followed with back-to-back singles to tie the game and give the Salukis the lead.
That knocked Belmont starter James Buckelew out of the game with two runners still on, and reliever Scott Moses promptly walked Matt Jones to reload the bases. Ryan Casillas beat out an infield single to extend the lead to 6-4, and Osborne scored on a wild pitch to cap the rally with the Dawgs in front, 7-4.
“We scored five runs in one inning, and it wasn’t like we were hitting balls off the wall,” Henderson said. “We just put the ball in play, and that’s when good things happen.”
Belmont scored a single run in the seventh and in the eighth to cut SIU’s lead to one run. Dom Veltri led off the seventh against SIU’s Lee Weld and reached on an error. After two walks, SIU called on Derek Fogel to relieve Weld with no outs and the bases loaded. Fogel limited the damage to one run as he got a popout, an RBI groundout and a strikeout to end the inning with SIU in front 7-5.
The Bruins William Dodd led off the eight with a double to left field and scored to cut SIU’s lead to one when Saluki leftfielder Parker Osborne lost a fly ball in the lights.
Tyler Dray shut down any thoughts of a Bruins’ comeback as he pitched a perfect ninth inning to earn his third save of the season and the 12th of his career. That puts him alone in fifth place on the SIU all-time list.
After a shaky first inning, Saluki starter Connor McFadden recovered to turn in his best start of his freshman season and earn his first collegiate win. He is already the sixth Saluki to earn his first career win this season. After allowing four runs, two of them earned, in the first three innings, he retired the last six batters he faced to finish the fifth inning. McFadden also allowed only two walks after issuing 11 free passes in five and a third innings over his first two starts.
“I’m proud of him for hanging in there to get through five innings after getting off to a rough start again,” Henderson said. “I thought he was a lot sharper today, and his last two innings he was pretty good. That’s what we need from him.”
Belmont took a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Drew Ferguson reached on an error to start the inning then stole second base. Jamie Ritchie singled to left to drive in Fergson. The Bruins then loaded the bases with a pair of singles, the second of which was a hard ground ball that hit off the umpire near second base. McFadden walked Zach Hald to force in the second run of the inning.
The Bruins added a run in the second inning when Ferguson doubled down the left field line and scored on Jamie Ritchie’s single through the right side of the infield.
Southern got on the board in the top of the third when Ryan Sabo and Jake Farmer started the inning with back-to-back singles. After a groundout moved them both over, Matt Jones reached on a two-out error by the shortstop to cut the deficit to 3-1.
After Belmont extended its lead back to three runs with a run in the third, Will Farmer delivered his second RBI single of the game in the fourth to cut it to 4-2. Sabo and Farmer were productive from the eight and nine spots in the order. They combined to go 4-for-7 as Sabo scored two runs, and Farmer drove in two.
SIU will try to stretch its winning streak to match a season-high four games when it begins a three-game series at South Alabama on Friday at 6:30 p.m.
“We try to win every one of them,” Henderson said. “Today was another good W for us, and now we put our focus on Friday night and South Alabama.”