March 16, 2012
By Scott Gierman
CARBONDALE, Ill, - SIU split a doubleheader with a win over Northern Illinois followed by a loss to Illinois Friday afternoon at Abe Martin Field.
In the first game of the day, the Salukis (12-6) rallied for three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to overcome a 4-3 deficit and extend their winning streak to five games with a 6-4 victory over the Huskies (2-15).
Nick Johnson’s sacrifice fly scored Donny Duschinsky to knot the score at 4-4, and the next batter, Jordan Sivertsen, delivered a two-run double to give SIU the lead. Sivertsen was a bright spot for Southern, recording a season-high three hits in the game. He went four-for-eight with four RBI in the doubleheader.
Starter Tom Barry took the loss for NIU. He allowed six runs off eight hits in seven and a third innings. Barry retired the first 10 Salukis in order then promptly allowed three runs in the fourth as five consecutive SIU hitters reached base.
SIU starter Cameron Maldonado allowed just one run in his first five innings of work before surrendering three runs and the lead in the sixth inning. Alex Klonowski’s two-run triple tied the game at 3-3, and Klonowski scored on Troy White’s sacrifice fly to give Northern a 4-3 lead.
There was a bizarre scene on the field in the top of the ninth inning, one batter before the final out of the game was recorded, when the SIU coaching staff literally brought out the rule book for the umpires during a 10-minute discussion. Northern batted out of order but ultimately was not punished for it. The confusion stemmed from when NIU brought in Klonowski from right field to pitch in the eighth. He surrendered Sivertsen’s game-winning double, then returned to right field.
Southern had an early lead in the second game before the defense unraveled and allowed the Illini to run away with an 8-2 victory. SIU committed a season-high five errors in the game. It was the third time this season the Dawgs have done so.
Southern Illinois committed two errors in the third inning, which led to four runs, none of them earned. That gave Illinois a 4-2 lead, and the Illini never looked back.
“We’ve gotten away with it a few times,” SIU Coach Ken Henderson said of his team’s poor defensive play. “But it’s going to catch up with you, and it did today. Those are not hard plays. Those are about as routine as you can get. We can’t go get guys out of the minor leagues so we have to get better.”
Starter Cody Forsythe took his first loss of the year. He allowed six runs, two of them earned, off nine hits in five innings of work.
Fresh off a come-from-behind victory, SIU was ready to strike early against Illinois. The Salukis took a 2-0 lead in the first inning but left lost some momentum by leaving the bases loaded.
That appeared to set the tone for the game as Southern stranded nine runners and hit into two double plays against Illinois.
“All day long we didn’t execute on offense,” Henderson said. “We got a few key hits early in the first game, but we left runners out there all day long.”
Illinois starter Kevin Johnson shut out the SIU offense after the first inning. He allowed just three more hits as he completed seven innings on his way to his third win of the year. Johnson struck out a season-high eight batters and at one point retired 10 in a row.
Southern had chances to close the gap against Illinois’ bullpen, getting the leadoff man aboard in the eighth and ninth, but had nothing to show for it.
“Even late in the game, we had guys at first and second two different times with nobody out, and we didn’t do anything with it,” Henderson said. “We just left a lot of runners out there today.”
Duschinsky recorded a hit in each game for SIU and extended his hitting streak to 13 games, the longest by a Saluki since 2010.
SIU will face NIU again on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Abe Martin Field. The game will immediately follow a morning game featuring Illinois against Northern.