Chris Serritella drove in the game-winning run Saturday
March 6, 2010
By Jason Clay
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Sophomore first baseman Chris Serritella drove in Tony Lepore in the bottom of the ninth to give the Southern Illinois baseball team a wild, 13-12, victory over Purdue on Saturday at Abe Martin Field.
After a demoralizing 18-2 loss in game one of the series on Friday, it appeared as though this game would go the same way. The Salukis (3-6) trailed 8-0 in the fifth inning, but came back to tie it by the seventh.
A four-run bottom of the eighth put the Dawgs up 12-9, but as has been the case early on this season, the win would not come easily. Purdue (1-5) bounced back in the top of the ninth on a three-run homer by the nine-hole hitter Barret Arthur. The game-tying bomb to right was the first home run given up by SIU's all-time save's leader Bryant George in what was his 74th career appearance.
The re-energized Salukis were not going to be denied on this day. Lepore singled to lead off the inning and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Michael Stalter. He then reached third on a wild pitch from Joe Hasse when they were trying to intentionally walk Serritella. With a 2-0 count, Serritella roped a liner down the right-field line to bring home Lepore for the game-winner.
"We needed that," head coach Dan Callahan said. "I don't know if there is such a thing as a must-win nine games into the year, but the manner in which we've lost has been so demoralizing. Our offense was so impressive with how they came back today and like I said, we needed that win in almost a desperate way."
George picked up the win, as he threw two innings with four strikeouts. Haase, the Boilermaker right-hander, was credited with the loss (0-1) after entering the game in the bottom of the eighth and giving up the game-winning hit to Serritella.
"Bryant George is a quality closer, I think he is the premier closer in our conference and maybe one of the better guys in the country," Callahan said. "That's when you know you're pitching's struggling, when all he's got to do is get three outs, but he gives up a three-run homer and gets the win the cheap way."
Serritella finished the game with two hits, two runs scored and a pair of walks. Lepore also scored two runs Saturday and he went 3-for-5 at the plate. The senior third baseman has gone 5-for-9 in the first two games of the series.
Junior Chris Murphy returned from a four-game absence with a sprained thumb. He went 2-for-5 at the plate with a double and two RBIs on his 21st birthday.
"Just having (Murphy) at the top of our lineup makes a difference for us," Callahan said. "He's a good player and is a catalysts for us. To have him back is comforting."
Freshman right fielder Nick Johnson continues to swing a hot bat. He went 3-for-5 with a double, two RBIs and three runs scored. Johnson has now hit safely in all eight games he's played in this year.
Saluki right hander Lee Weld lasted five innings while making his third career start and that is the longest any SIU starter has lasted this year. He gave up nine hits and eight runs, only six that were earned and had four walks with two strikeouts.
Purdue jumped out to a 7-0 lead with two runs in the first and second innings, and three in the third. Left fielder Tyler Spillner drove in two of the three runs in the third inning with his single to right field.
Boilermaker starter Matt Morgan was cruising along through the first four innings, where he only gave up one hit and three base runners. It wasn't until SIU was down 8-0 in the fifth inning when the Salukis finally got to Morgan.
The Dawgs managed to score one in the bottom of the fifth and then six in the sixth. SIU took its first lead of the game in the eighth, after scoring four runs.
Blake Pinnon, who entered the game as a pinch hitter in the sixth, drove in two of the four SIU runs in the eighth with his double down the left-field line. He finished the game with three RBIs on two hits.
45 runs have been scored between the two teams through two games, and surely will add to that total Sunday in the series finale. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. at Abe Martin Field.