Clutch hits elude SIU in 4-1 loss to Illinois

    Sam Coonrod allowed three runs in seven innings and took the loss for SIU.

    Sam Coonrod allowed three runs in seven innings and took the loss for SIU.
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    March 15, 2013

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    CARBONDALE, Ill. – SIU left 11 runners on base in a 4-1 series-opening loss to Illinois Friday afternoon at Abe Martin Field. The Salukis left at least one man on base in each of the final seven innings of the game and did not collect consecutive hits until the ninth inning.

    Meanwhile, Illinois (11-4) scored a single run against SIU (9-8) in four different innings, and the Illini’s first three runs were each driven home with a two-out hit. 

    “We had our opportunities,” SIU Coach Ken Henderson said. “We didn’t hit in the clutch in crucial situations, but they did every time. They’re a good, veteran ball club. They did a better job in crucial situations than we did. If you’re looking for the main storyline, that’s it.”

    Illinois’ Kevin Johnson outdueled Sam Coonrod to pick up his third win of the season. Johnson scattered seven hits in eight scoreless innings. The Salukis stranded five runners in scoring position against him.

    “He’s their No. 1 for a reason,” Henderson said. “He’s been awfully good for them for a while. He pounds the strike zone. He’s not going to overpower you, but he can pitch.”

    Coonrod allowed three runs off six hits in seven innings of work and took the loss to fall to 1-1 on the season. The sophomore allowed the leadoff man aboard in five innings and allowed the leadoff man to score in three of those innings.

    “We can’t pitch out of the stretch all day,” Henderson said. “Sam did a good job once they got on, but he has to be ready to go every inning and keep the leadoff guy off. He pitched well, but that’s the difference in the game.”

    Illinois scored a run in the top of the first inning when Will Krug led off the game with an infield single and scored on Jordan Parr’s double into the corner in left field.

    The Illini tacked on another run in the top of the fourth with Trevor Lindauer’s two-out RBI single. That extended the lead to 2-0. Lindauer hit another two-out RBI single in the top of the sixth to make it a 3-0 game.

    Down 4-0 in the ninth inning, the Salukis finally got on the board with back-to-back of one-out doubles from Nick Johnson and Jake Welch, but it was too little, too late. Reid Roper pitched the entire ninth inning for Illinois and retired the final two batters in order to end the game.

    Matt Murphy tossed the last two innings for the Salukis. He allowed a run in the eighth and pitched a scoreless ninth. It was the first earned run Murphy allowed this season and broke a streak of 15 and a third innings without an earned run for the Saluki bullpen.