March 17, 2009
By Jeff Honza
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Chris Serritella and Mark Kelly each homered, and righthanded reliever Brad Lawrence tossed three scoreless innings to lead Southern Illinois University (7-12) to a 9-4 win over Middle Tennessee State (13-3) earlier today at Reese Smith Field.
SIU ended MTSU's six-game winning streak and handed the Blue Raiders just their second home loss this season.
"Our bullpen did a good job and we had some great at-bats," said Saluki associate head coach Ken Henderson. "This was a big win for us today."
The game was tied 1-1 when Serritella sent a jolt into the Saluki offense. With two outs and runners on first and third, Serritella blasted his third home run of the season over the wall in left center to give SIU a 4-1 cushion.
SIU then blew the game open with five runs on five hits in the seventh.
Three of the Salukis' first four hitters, including Tyler Bullock, Tony Lepore and Chris Murphy, all singled to right and scored. With two outs and a runner on first after Michael Stalter reached on a fielder's choice, Mark Kelly stepped in and launched a home run to left, giving SIU a 9-1 lead. The round-tripper marked Kelly's second of the year and first since SIU's season-opener against James Madison (Feb. 20).
While the Saluki hitters were getting it done at the plate, Lawrence was tearing through the Blue Raider lineup on the mound.
Lawrence (1-1), who relieved starting lefthander Jimmy Cornell in the fourth, retired nine of the 11 hitters he faced in his best outing of the season to date. He also struck out two, allowed just one hit and sat down five in a row in the fifth and sixth innings to earn his first win of the year.
MTSU, after being held to four hits in eight innings, came alive in the bottom of the ninth. MTSU batted around to score three runs on six hits. All three runs scored with the help of four-straight two-out hits. However, Saluki closer Bryant George caught Steven Watson looking on strikes to end the threat.
Lefthander Brett Wilson (2-1) suffered his first loss of the season for the Blue Raiders. Wilson gave up five hits and three runs, while recording a strikeout and walking one in 5.1 innings.
SIU outhit MTSU, 12-10, on the day with eight of its hits coming in the sixth and seventh innings.
Aaron Roberts went 4-for-5 with a run scored and one RBI in his first game hitting out of the two-hole this season. Kelly and Serritella also turned in multiple-hits. Kelly went 2-for-4 with two runs, a double and two RBI, while Serritella went 2-for-4 with a run scored and three RBI. Kelly has now reached base in 41-consecutive games.
Eight of nine MTSU starters got a hit, with Rawley Bishop and Stuart Meinhart each going 2-for-4 with two RBI.
The Salukis and Blue Raiders wrap up their two-game series on Wednesday at 3 p.m., CT. Righthander Brian Pullyblank (0-0) will make his first career start.