March 7, 2012
By Scott Gierman
CARBONDALE, Ill. – Southern Illinois earned a split of a two-game series with a 5-3 win over Middle Tennessee Wednesday afternoon at Abe Martin Field. A day after surrendering 14 runs, the Salukis (8-5) allowed just one earned run in the victory over the Blue Raiders.
The Salukis took a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the fourth when Blue Raiders starter Nathan Foriest threw three consecutive wild pitches to Jake Welch, allowing Wes Neece to circle the base paths. After Welch walked, he stole second base then scored on Chris Serritella’s single up the middle. That extended the lead to 5-3.
"I’m extremely proud of that fact that after we got down 3-0, after we got our butts beat yesterday we bounced back today," SIU Coach Ken Henderson said. "After the second inning, we played pretty well from there on."
Pete Slavonic earned the win in his first collegiate start. He allowed three runs in five innings and matched a career best with five strikeouts. Only one of the runs against him was earned, thanks to a couple defensive lapses by the Salukis.
"Pete gave us five innings and turned the lead over to the bullpen, and they did a great job today," Henderson said. "What a difference a day makes. That’s the difference in the game, everything that we did on the mound."
Despite four wild pitches and three unearned runs, Middle Tennessee starter Nathan Foriest pitched well but took the loss. He allowed five runs, only two of them earned, in three and two-thirds innings. He struck out eight batters.
Playing their fifth game in six days, the Salukis got a much needed great effort from the bullpen. The relievers combined to toss four perfect innings. Aaron Snyder, who had season ending elbow surgery last March, looked overpowering as he retired all six batters he faced in the sixth and seventh innings.
"Aaron Snyder was outstanding today," Henderson said. "That’s the Snyder that we need. That’s something he’s capable of, and he looked like a different guy today. Coach Finigan said when he threw in Florida last week, he’s getting better every time out, and he was awfully good today."
Tyler Dray and Todd Eaton each added a scoreless inning. Eaton earned his third save in four opportunities this season. It was the third time in the last four games that the bullpen did not allow a run.
Middle Tennessee scored all of its runs in the second inning to take a 3-0 lead. The Blue Raiders recorded just two hits in the inning as the Salukis committed three errors. Two were made on sacrifice bunts attempts while the other involved a collision between Rennie Troggio and Nick Johnson in right-center field.
The Blue Raider defense quickly returned the favor in the bottom of the second inning, allowing three Saluki runs off two errors to tie the game at 3-3. Donny Duschinsky had the game tying hit, a two-out single to score two runs. He now has 13 RBI on the year, two more than he had as a freshman in 2011.
"We took advantage of their mistakes," Henderson said. "We’ve done a good job of that. When people have made mistakes, we’ve taken advantage of it and scored some runs and we did that today. But they did the same thing on us too."
Joey McClung did his best to keep Middle Tennessee in the game. He was the only reliever used by the Blue Raiders and allowed just four hits in four and a third innings.
The Dawgs are off on Thursday and will open a three-game series at home against Jacksonville State on Friday. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. Cody Forsythe is scheduled to make the start for SIU.