Matt Brewer earned his first career win on the mound against No. 11 Wichita State Saturday
March 25, 2006
By Jeff Honza
WICHITA, Kan. - For the first time in school history, Southern Illinois University (16-9, 2-0) is leaving Wichita with a series win. The Salukis plated four unearned runs off three costly Shocker errors in a 5-1 win over No. 11 Wichita State (20-5, 0-2) earlier today at Eck Stadium.
SIU never beat WSU in a regular-season series until 2005, where it took two of three in Carbondale. This year, the Dawgs headed to Wichita to face a red-hot Shocker club that was undefeated at home and had won 16 of 17 games.
Now, after dropping WSU to its first 0-2 Missouri Valley Conference start since 1988, SIU is getting out of Shockertown with its first-ever series win at Eck Stadium.
"It's a big deal anytime you beat Wichita," said Saluki head coach Dan Callahan, who currently owns a three-game winning streak against the Shockers. "We all know how tough it is to play here and I think there's been some carry over from last year's series win at home."
SIU trailed, 1-0, in the first, but answered with three runs in the third, and never fell behind the Shockers again.
Chris McCulloch led off the third with a walk and went to second when Hunter Harrigan laid down a bunt. WSU starting left-hander Rob Musgrave fielded the bunt and threw to second in attempt to get McCulloch out on the force, but his throw got by shortstop Noah Krol. As a result, McCulloch went to third on the play, and SIU was in business with no outs and runners on the corners.
With one away following Nathan Emrick's line out to short, Musgrave issued back-to-back walks to Kevin Koski and Scott Elmendorf. After Elmendorf's walk scored McCulloch, Grant Gerrard reached on an error and Harrigan touched home. Erik Alvarez's sacrifice fly then plated Koski to give SIU a 3-1 lead.
Matt Brewer (1-1), who made his second career start and first-ever against WSU, allowed only one run in 7.1 innings, the longest outing by a Saluki starter this year.
Brewer, who hails from Springfield, Ill., retired 10 of 11 Shocker hitters, including eight-straight between the third and sixth innings. He also had 16 fly ball outs.
"Earlier in the year I was shaky on the mound, but I felt comfortable out there today," said Brewer. "When I needed to make a pitch, I made it, and I thought my off-speed stuff kept them off-balance. Defensively, our outfielders were outstanding. They made so many great plays to help me."
With one out and two on in the eighth, Brewer gave way to Danny Wells, who silenced the threat when he forced Matt Brown into a fielder's choice and struck out Tyler Hill.
He got out of the eighth inning on just five pitches, before finishing off the Shockers with back-to-back strikeouts in the ninth.
Wells, who earned his first career win and first career save in two-straight relief appearances, gave up one hit and struck out three in 1.2 scoreless innings.
"I love being out there when the game is on the line," said Wells. "Everything seemed to be working off my two-seam fastball today. I think we built a lot of momentum in these first two games, and if we keep it up, we could make a big run."
Musgrave (4-1) suffered his first loss of the season after allowing five runs (one earned) on four hits and three walks. He also struck out five in a career-high eight innings of work.
SIU only had four hits on the day, with Elmendorf, Gerrard, Alvarez and Cademartori finishing with one apiece.
WSU was led by Kenny Waddell, who went 3-for-4 with a run scored.
Defensively, SIU went without an error for the third time this season. The errorless performance was highlighted by big plays all over the outfield, as Cademartori accounted for nine putouts in left, Gerrard had four in right and Koski had three in center.
Prior to today, the closest SIU came to beating WSU in a regular-season series in Wichita was in both 1990 and 2002, where the teams split four-game sets.
The Salukis and Shockers wrap up their three-game series tomorrow at 1 p.m., CST. Senior left-hander Tyler Norrick will start on the mound for SIU.
Tomorrow's game will be simulcast live on WCIL 1020 AM and www.siusalukis.com.