Harding delivers in eighth to give Baseball a 9-8 victory

    Blake Pinnon homered for the second-straight game

    Blake Pinnon homered for the second-straight game
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    March 24, 2010

    By Jason Clay
    www.SIUSalukis.com

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    CARBONDALE, Ill. - Brock Harding's pinch-hit RBI single in the bottom of the eighth capped off a three run inning to bring SIU back from a two-run deficit to win, 9-8, Wednesday over Eastern Illinois at Abe Martin Field.

    The Salukis (9-12) overcame two, three-run homers from EIU (4-15) leadoff hitter Zach Borenstein and came back from a 7-3 deficit after the top of the fourth for the victory. Southern Illinois enters conference play this weekend having won four out of its last five games.

    "I though we could comeback, but I didn't think it would take as long as it did," head coach Dan Callahan said. "Hopefully this is a confidence builder heading into league play and this game serves as a prelude to the weekend series against Creighton."

    After SIU took its first lead since the second inning, Bryant George entered in the ninth to earn his first save of the season. Senior reliever Kellen Candau, in his first appearance after an injury sidelined him from the onset of the season, was credited with the win.

    EIU closer Matt Miller (0-5) picked up the loss when SIU scored the go-ahead run off of him in the eighth.

    Seniors Michael Stalter and Aaron Roberts both drove in two runs for the Dawgs, each off of two hits. Blake Pinnon hit a two-run homer in the first inning and Chris Serritella and Chris Murphy both drove in one run.

    Serritella and senior third baseman Tony Lepore each had three hits and SIU as a team posted 17 hits in the game while the Panthers had 12.

    EIU's bottom two hitters in the order, Ryan Dineen and Gerik Wallsten, each had three hits and both scored two runs off of Borenstein's homers. Borenstein's jacks were his only two hits on the day and he finished with those six RBIs.

    Pinnon started the Salukis off with a two-run homer in the first inning. His shot down the left-field line gave him home runs in consecutive at-bats, going back to Tuesday's game at UT Martin when he hit a three-run shot in the ninth inning.

    Lepore scored in the second inning on a sacrifice fly from Roberts to push SIU's lead up to 3-0.

    Borenstein tied the game in the third with a wind-aided three-run home run to right field.

    He struck again for the Panthers in the fourth with his second three-run homer and this one needed no help getting out of the park. He cleared the 390-foot center field wall and Eastern Illinois scored four runs in the fourth to go up 7-3.

    Panther reliever Dillon Roark replaced starting pitcher Troy Barton in the bottom of the fourth and the Salukis got to him immediately. Roark walked the first batter he faced before giving up three straight singles, two of which never left the infield, and Roberts plated Lepore when he hit a grounder off of Roark's leg.

    Murphy drove home another run in the fourth on a bases loaded fielders choice to pull SIU back within two runs of Eastern.

    The fifth and sixth innings went scoreless before the two teams went back and forth in the seventh and eighth.

    Stalter plated Pinnon in the seventh on a ground out and a double from EIU's Wallsten in the top of the eighth put the Panther lead back lead at two, 8-6. However, the Salukis had more fight left in them and scored three runs with two outs in the bottom of the eighth to take a 9-8 lead.

    Serritella's single through the right side scored Roberts from second for the first run. Then after Nick Johnson singled, Stalter brought home Serritella with his second base hit on the day. Harding put himself in position to be the hero, as he grounded a ball up the middle to score Johnson from third.

    George then shut down EIU in the ninth to give SIU the victory.

    The Salukis open up conference play this weekend when they host Creighton in a three game series at Abe Martin Field. Game one begins Friday at 3 p.m.

     

     

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