March 20, 2012
By Scott Gierman
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Poor defense and missed opportunities again doomed the Salukis as four unearned runs were the difference in a 5-1 loss to Eastern Illinois Tuesday afternoon at Abe Martin Field. The loss was Southern's fourth in a row.
Eastern Illinois never trailed after taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Nick Priessman reached on an infield single, stole second and scored on a groundout. Eastern extended the lead to 3-0 in the third inning as back-to-back two-out doubles plated two unearned runs following Donny Duschinsky's error.
The Salukis committed four errors in the game, three of them contributing to unearned runs for the Panthers. However, it was poor at-bats that stuck out to Coach Ken Henderson as the main reason for the loss.
"I don't think we battled at the plate," Henderson said. "Nobody battled at the plate. It was okay to strikeout. It was okay not to get runners in at third. Our offense didn't compete. That's unacceptable, and I assure you that will change."
Southern Illinois scored its only run in the fourth inning when Chris Serritella led off with a double and scored on Jordan Sivertsen's double. That cut the deficit to 3-1. The Dawgs then loaded the bases with one out and were poised for a big rally as they forced a pitching change. However, the inning ended quickly with no further damage as Luke Mottashed and Rennie Troggio were each retired on one pitch.
Eastern used six pitchers, and all of them had success against the Saluki offense. Starter Troy Barton tossed two scoreless innings and took the win.
Southern stranded nine runners but managed only three singles in the final five innings of the game.The Salukis could not take advantage of a solid pitching performance by Pete Slavonic, who took the loss in the longest start of his career. After throwing 65 pitches in his first three innings of work, he found a groove in the middle innings. The righty allowed three runs, only one of them earned, in six innings of work. He retired eight of the last nine batters he faced.
"Pete kept us in the game," Henderson said. "He did what he's supposed to do. He threw strikes, and he kept us there and gave us a shot, but our offense didn't battle well enough."
The four-game losing streak is the longest since a nine-game slide in March of 2011.
"We've lost four in a row," Henderson said. "It's not been fun, and we haven't played as hard as we should, but we can turn it around tomorrow, and we will."
Southern opens the conference schedule this coming weekend with a three-game series against Bradley starting at 1 p.m. on Friday.