March 24, 2012
By Scott Gierman
CARBONDALE, Ill. - For the second day in a row, SIU overcame an early deficit with a barrage of home runs to defeat Bradley, this time by a 7-2 final Saturday afternoon at Abe Martin Field.
Once again Jordan Sivertsen's two-run home run gave the Salukis (14-9, 2-0) their first lead of the game over Bradley (10-9-1, 0-2). His sixth inning skyrocket barely cleared the fence in left field to break a 2-2 tie and chase Bradley starter Justin Ziegler from the game.
Two batters later Nick Johnson doubled and later scored on Rennie Troggio's third single of the game, extending the Saluki lead to 5-2. Southern never looked back as Donny Duschinky led off the eighth inning with a home run, and Johnson did the same in the ninth.
SIU starter Cameron Maldonado improved his record to 3-0 on the season. He allowed two runs in seven innings of work and struck out a season-high seven batters. Only one run against him was earned. At one point he retired 11 consecutive hitters before allowing a harmless two-out single in the seventh inning.
"I was just trying to spot my fastball and use my split as an out pitch but just let the team play behind me," Maldonado said. "They made the plays and did a great job. We knew they have a lot of pull hitters so I wanted to mix up the pitches and pitch them backwards, starting off with breaking pitches, and everything was working."
Bradley built a 2-0 lead as Ziegler scattered four singles in four shutout innings to start the game.
"I didn't think we were bad early," SIU Coach Ken Henderson said. "I thought (Ziegler) was doing a pretty good job. He was mixing speeds and wasn't giving us a lot of stuff to hit. We were still confident, and we got a little better look at him the second time around."
The Salukis finally got to him in the fifth inning on Rennie Troggio's one-out RBI single to score Johnson. Ziegler nearly escaped the inning with a 2-1 lead when he struck out Donny Duschinsky for what would've been the third out. However, the pitch was in the dirt, and catcher Austin Jarvis' throw to first hit Duschinsky in the back, allowing Troggio to score from second base to tie the game.
"They made mistakes, and we made them pay for it," Sivertsen said. "That's huge. That's what you have to do in conference. Early in the game we weren't hitting well, but we made their mistakes hurt. That's what we need to do."
After allowing Sivertsen's game changing home run, Ziegler took the loss. He allowed four runs, three of them earned, in five innings of work. He struck out six and did not issue a walk.
Aaron Snyder was the only reliever the Salukis used in the game. He allowed a pair of singles and struck out three batters in two scoreless innings to preserve the win.
In total, SIU pitchers struck out 10 Braves and did not issue a walk.
"That's the key to the game," Henderson said. "We made them earn it. I thought we played well. I thought it was one of our better games of the year. Cam was outstanding. His offspeed stuff was very good today, and I thought he did a great job."
With the victory, the Salukis have begun the Missouri Valley Conference season 2-0 for the second year in a row. They will try for the sweep on Sunday when Nathan Dorris takes the mound to make his first conference start for SIU at 1 p.m. at Abe Martin Field.
"It feels good to win the series, but we want to get the sweep tomorrow. We're going to need sweeps to win the conference this year so tomorrow will be a big one."