No. 19 Mississippi State blanks Salukis, 3-0

    Jake Welch went 2 for 3 with a walk on Tuesday.

    Jake Welch went 2 for 3 with a walk on Tuesday.
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    March 11, 2014

    By Scott Gierman 

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    STARKVILLE, Miss. – Southern Illinois was shut out for the second time this season in a 3-0 loss to No. 19 Mississippi State on a misty Tuesday night at Dudy Noble Field. Preston Brown started on the mound for the Bulldogs (13-7) and was nearly unhittable, holding the Salukis (8-7) to four hits in eight scoreless innings.

    Southern was held hitless for the first five and two-thirds innings before Jake Welch singled through the right side of the infield. After Welch led off the game with a walk, Brown retired 16 of the next 17 Salukis. Donny Duschinsky was the only SIU hitter to reach during that stretch when he was hit by a pitch.

    “I’m disappointed in our approach,” Henderson said. “I think we swung at a lot of pitches we shouldn’t have swung at. We didn’t have a very good game plan offensively. He was pretty good, but we’ve seen pitching like that already this year.”

    Mississippi State took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third when SIU starter Connor McFadden issued three walks to load up the bases, and then Brett Pirtle singled past second baseman Ryan Rosthenhausler through the right side of the infield.

    Henderson was most upset with the two-run inning as the Salukis only allowed one more run the rest of the game.

    “I’m disappointed that we let in those two runs,” Henderson said. “If (those runs don’t score, then) it’s a 1-0 ballgame, then we have a chance. In every inning, you’re one swing away from tying the thing up. The two gifts we gave them in the third bother me. They shouldn’t have scored those runs. We walked three guys and then didn’t make a play on the infield that absolutely has to be made.”

    The Bulldogs added a run in the fourth to extend the lead to 3-0. With one out, Demarcus Henderson reached on a bunt when McFadden slipped on the wet grass in front of home plate trying to field and throw. After a stolen base and a flyout, Matthew Britton singled home Henderson. McFadden then issued a walk and departed the game. Reliever Matt Murphy got SIU out of the inning with no further damage with a quick groundout.

    McFadden threw three and two-thirds innings, allowed three runs and took the loss. He struck out two and only allowed four hits, all singles, but issued four walks. Three of those walks came in the third inning.

    “(The walks are) frustrating,” Henderson said. “We had to take him out in the fourth inning when he had given up one hard hit ball, but you can’t give gifts. Walks are gifts. I know he’s working hard, and hopefully he can get that figured out.”

    The bullpen kept the Salukis in the game with four and a third scoreless innings of work. After Matt Murphy threw and inning and a third, Austin McPheron, Lee Weld and Tyler Dray each tossed a scoreless inning, holding the Bulldogs to three hits, all singles, in the final four innings.

    “I’m proud of our guys,” Henderson said. “Our bullpen kept us in it and gave us a chance. They did another good job.”

    Southern finished the road trip with a 1-4 record, dropping the last four games, and will finally return to Carbondale for its first home game of the season when the Salukis open Itchy Jones Stadium on Friday with a 3 p.m. game against Illinois.

    “I don’t think or kids have lost confidence,” Henderson said. “We’ve played good teams, and we’ve done a whole lot of good things. We did a lot of good things tonight.”