Offense struggles in 4-1 loss at South Alabama

    Todd Eaton tossed his first career complete game in a losing effort.

    Todd Eaton tossed his first career complete game in a losing effort.
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    March 8, 2014

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    MOBILE, Ala. – Southern Illinois’ comeback bid fell short in a 4-1 loss to South Alabama Saturday afternoon at Stanky Field. It was the second-straight loss to begin the three-game series against the Jaguars (7-7). The Salukis (8-5) managed just three hits in the first eight innings before bringing the go-ahead run to the plate with no outs in the ninth.

    Ryan Casillas led off the ninth with a home run just inside the left field foul pole. Donny Duschinsky then singled to knock Jaguars starter Locke St. John out of the game. Reliever James Traylor walked pinch hitter Jake Hand and Parker Osborne to load the bases. However, Ryan Rosthenhausler hit a line drive right at third baseman Bud Collura who doubled up Hand at second base. That took the wind out of SIU’s sails, and Traylor struck out Jake Welch to end the game.

    “We’re just struggling offensively,” SIU Coach Ken Henderson said. “We haven’t swung it like we’re capable. We have good hitters who are pressing a little bit.”

    Todd Eaton threw his first career complete game for SIU but took the loss to fall to 0-2. He allowed four runs, three of them earned, in eight innings of work. The three earned runs all crossed the plate in the first inning.

    Eaton allowed the first three batters of the first inning to reach with a hit batsman followed by a couple singles to load the bases with no outs. After Matt Wojciechowski lined out to second baseman Ryan Sabo, Erik Hindmon reached on a fielder’s choice to plate the first run of the game. Eaton then walked Cole Gleason and surrendered a two-run single to Adam Ballew to cap the three-run rally.

    “Coming off a tough loss last night, to give up a three-spot in the first is a little demoralizing,” Henderson said. “But credit Todd. He’s tough, and he bounced right back and started throwing zeroes. He gave us a chance.”

    After the first inning, Eaton scattered four hits and allowed just the unearned run in his remaining seven innings of work. Seven of the 14 runs Eaton has allowed this season have come in the first inning of his four starts. He has a 3.15 ERA after the first inning this year.

    “That’s a mystery,” Henderson said of Eaton’s first inning struggles. “We can’t get him out of the first inning unscathed, but then he gets on a roll from there. (After the first inning) he was pretty special, but we have to figure that out and find a way to get him through that first inning.”

    South Alabama added an unearned run in the bottom of the fifth. Bud Collura hit a leadoff single on a chopper that hit off the glove of Eaton. After a sacrifice bunt, moved Collura over, Wojciechowski hit a grounder to second base, which Ryan Sabo misplayed, allowing Collura to score.

    St. John earned the win for the Jaguars to improve his record to 2-0 and lower his ERA to 1.57. He held SIU to no runs and three hits in the first eight innings before allowing the homer to Casillas in the ninth. St. John struck out five and walked three.

    “He’s pretty darn good,” Henderson said. “His ERA is tremendous for a reason. He can pitch. He’s deceptive. His fastball gets on your in a hurry, and he hits corners. Sometimes you just have to tip your hat. You have a combination of a guy who is pretty good on the mound and a team that is struggling offensively.”



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