March 12, 2006
By Jeff Honza
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Senior Erik Alvarez's two-out single plated an unearned run in the bottom of the ninth, allowing Southern Illinois University (13-5) to beat Middle Tennessee State (5-7), 7-6, and win the series earlier today at Abe Martin Field.
Kevin Koski drew a leadoff walk against MTSU reliever Langdon Stanley, stole second and went to third on an error by Blue Raider second baseman Wayne Kendrick. With two outs after Scott Elmendorf popped up to third and Grant Gerrard flied out to left, Alvarez then ripped a single down the left field line to give the Salukis their second-straight victory in their last at-bat.
"It feels good to come through," said Alvarez. "I was just looking to make contact and got ahold of a change up, up in the zone. It's nice to get a couple wins at home right before we head to San Antonio next week."
SIU, who posted its third series win of the season, had to come from behind to beat the Blue Raiders again.
MTSU took a 1-0 lead after starting the game with three-straight singles from Doug Birkofer, Wayne Kendrick and Jeff Beachum. With runners on the corners and no outs, Michael McKenry lined out to left with Kendrick tagging at third and scoring on the play, but Kendrick was called out for leaving early. Chase Eakes then lined out to end what could have been a bigger inning for the Blue Raiders.
The Salukis answered right back with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the inning to take their first lead of the weekend.
The Blue Raiders regained a 6-2 lead in the fifth with four runs on four hits, including Warren's three-run blast over the left field wall.
SIU, however, scored four runs of its own to tie the game again in the seventh.
Hunter Harrigan rifled a one-out single off Josh Horn's glove at third and Koski was hit by a pitch with two outs. Elmendorf then singled to left center, scoring Harrigan, before Gerrard hammered a two-RBI double off the base of center field wall. Alvarez's single to right knocked in Gerrard to tie things up at 6-6.
The Blue Raiders tried to answer in the eighth with a one-out single by Watson and a walk by Rawley Bishop, but Birkofer struck out against Saluki reliever Charlie Weber and Kendrick grounded into a fielder's choice to end the threat.
In the ninth, Beachum drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on McKenry's sacrifice. Nathan Hines, who entered the game in the seventh, laced a ball up the middle that hit the side of the mound and bounced off Saluki second baseman Bret Maugeri's leg. Beachum was waved home on the play, but Maugeri threw out Beachum at the plate to keep the score deadlocked at 6-6.
Dusty Baker (4-0), the fourth SIU hurler of the day, tossed one scoreless inning, allowing one hit and picking up his second consecutive win of the series.
Stanley (0-3) suffered the loss for the second-straight game, giving up an unearned run on one hit with a walk and a strikeout.
Snyder worked five innings, giving up six runs on 10 hits, while walking two. Ryan Welch then threw 2.1 scoreless innings, allowing SIU to get back in the game, before giving way to Weber, who got two outs prior to walking Beachum in the ninth.
MTSU, who out-hit SIU, 14-10, stranded nine baserunners.
The top half of the lineup was responsible for the bulk of the offense for both teams.
MTSU's one-through-four combination of Birkofer (3), Kendrick (3), Beachum (2) and McKenry (1) had nine hits, while SIU's top-five hitters of Koski (1), Elmendorf (2), Gerrard (2), Alvarez (2) and Cademartori (1) accounted for eight.
SIU heads to San Antonio, Texas for its Spring Break next week. The Salukis will play Iowa at 5:30 p.m., on both Wednesday and Thursday, and Notre Dame at 1:30 p.m., on Friday and Saturday. All of those games can be heard on the internet at www.siusalukis.com and widb.net.