March 14, 2007
By Jeff Honza
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Rawley Bishop went 2-for-3 with a grand slam, two runs scored and five RBI to help Middle Tennessee State (8-10) overcome a four-run deficit and beat Southern Illinois (12-6), 9-8, earlier today at Reese Smith Field.
MTSU trailed, 5-1, until Bishop launched Daniel Wells' second delivery into the Blue Raiders' football stadium, which sits just beyond the left field wall.
Saluki starter Kyle Catto, who came out unscathed in a bases loaded jam in the third, gave up four one-out hits before Wells entered the game.
Bishop took Wells deep over the wall in left center for his team-high sixth home run to give MTSU a 6-5 lead, its first of the series.
"Wells threw a changeup away to Bishop, and obviously, it was a mistake," said Saluki head coach Dan Callahan.
The Blue Raiders extended their lead to 9-5 with three more runs in the sixth.
Brad Lawrence gave up an infield hit to Taylor Dennis, a single up the middle to Wayne Kendrick, a hit to Adam Warren and plunked Bishop to start the seventh. Dean Cademartori mis-played Warren's hit in left, and two runs came home.
With one out and a runner on second, Bryant George balked, and Warren moved to third. Blake McDade, after falling behind 0-2 in the count, delivered a clutch one-out single to score Warren.
SIU, which went down fighting, had its chances to catch the Blue Raiders in the end.
MTSU went to reliever Jordan Alvis after that. Alvis gave up a single to Mark Kelly, the first hitter he faced. Roberts scored on Kelly's hit to pull SIU to within a run at 9-8.
SIU, however, was forced to leave the tying and go-ahead runs on base when Alvis retired five-straight to end the game. Alvis earned his first save.
Reliever Brett Reilley, one of five Blue Raider pitchers to take the hill, improved to 2-0 on the year after allowing two hits in 1.1 scoreless innings.
Wells fell to 1-2 after giving up two hits and a run on three pitches.
Offensively, SIU registered 15 hits. The Salukis did major damage in two-out situations, where they hit .500 (9-for-18) with five runs on the day.
The first five hitters in SIU's order, consisting of Roberts (3-for-5), Scott Elmendorf (1-for-4), Hills (2-for-4), Kelly (3-for-4) and Cademartori (2-for-4) teamed up for 11 hits.
Lairson and Michael Finigan added two hits apiece at the bottom of the order. Finigan became the fourth Saluki this season to homer for the first time when he blasted a solo shot as part of a three-run fourth inning.
"It's a shame we wasted all that hitting," said Callahan. "We just didn't pitch well."
SIU returns home to host Western Michigan in a three-game series, beginning Friday at 2 p.m., CST.
Series Notes: Kevin Koski did not play in consecutive games for the first time in his SIU career...Koski, who has been day-to-day with a sore hamstring, made 143-straight starts in the Saluki outfield prior to the Middle Tennessee State series...the last time he was out of the starting lineup was in game two of SIU's doubleheader versus Wisconsin-Milwaukee on May 15, 2004...Koski has started 187 of 192 games since joining the Dawgs in 2004...there were a total of 58 hits, 31 runs, three home runs, six doubles and 46 runners left on base in two games between the Salukis and Blue Raiders...three Salukis, including Aaron Roberts (.556, 5-for-9), Tyler Lairson (.556, 5-for-9) and Mark Kelly (.500, 5-for-10) hit .500 or better on the series...Kelly (14 games) and Elmendorf (9 games) kept their hitting streaks intact...SIU hit .424 (14-for-33) and scored nine runs with two outs...Lairson accounted for four hits and four RBI in those situations...SIU's 29 hits were the most in a two-game span this season...SIU gave up a season-high 18 hits to MTSU in game two of the series...the Blue Raiders hit .143 (1-for-7) with the bases loaded...the Saluki bullpen blew a lead for the third time in six games...SIU has won three of its last five meetings against MTSU...three of those games were decided by a run.