March 28, 2004
By Jeff Honza
CARBONDALE, Ill. - The series finale between Southern Illinois (6-14-1, 2-1-1) and Bradley (12-6-1, 1-2-1) had all the makings for a fantastic finish. Instead, it was somewhat of a disappointment, as both teams were left with a 7-7 tie after darkness forced the game to be called after nine innings of play.
According to the all-time year-by-year standings in the 2004 Missouri Valley Conference Baseball Media Guide, today's 7-7 finish between SIU and BU is the first-ever regular-season league game to end in a tie.
Also for the Salukis, the tie is their first since 1991, where they battled Morehead State to a final score of 1-1 under head coach Sam Riggleman.
SIU trailed by one run (4-3) after five innings, but used a four-run sixth to regain a 7-4 advantage.
With one out in the sixth, the Salukis touched BU relief pitcher Brandon Magee for four straight hits. After Brendan Lutz hit a RBI-double down the left field line, Kevin Koski, Nick Baughman and Nathan Emrick each singled.
Shortly after Koski's hit, Baughman laid down a nice bunt to score Lutz on a squeeze play. Emrick's hit then plated both Koski and Baughman to cap the rally.
BU answered with a three-run seventh, which started with a one-out
double by Rene Aqueron. Brian Meischner followed Aqueron's extra-base hit
with a single to left to put runners at first and third. Ryan Curry then
delivered a run-scoring single off Saluki reliever Josh Joiner, and after a
passed ball gave the Braves runners at second and third, Brad Canada and
Jonathan Smith each ripped RBI-singles.
Knotted at 7-7, both teams had opportunities to break the tie in the eighth inning, but came up empty.
The Braves had runners on first and second thanks to consecutive one-out singles by Paul Rice and Aqueron, but Meischner hit into a double play to end the inning.
In the bottom half of the eighth, back-to-back one-out errors by shortstop Adam Usicki and second baseman Meischner gave the Salukis runners at the corners, but BU escaped the jam when reliever Joshua Caruso picked off Baughman at first and forced Emrick to ground out to short.
SIU had one more runner in scoring position in the ninth when Matt Brewer hit a one-out double, but Cory Newman grounded out to short, and immediately following the out, the game was called.
In the first game, BU scored five runs in the top of the first en route to its 7-1 win.
Curry and Smith each hit RBI-doubles, which added to a stretch of four straight one-out hits off Saluki starter Ryan Welch.
Smith would also hit a two-run homer in the seventh to polish off the win for the Braves.
Welch, who fell to 1-1 on the year, gave up five hits and five runs in two-thirds of an inning. He also struck out one.
Brian Spielman (2-0) picked up the win for BU. Spielman struck out three batters, allowed five hits, gave up one run and issued two walks in his complete seven-inning game.
After his hitting streak ended at 11 games in game one, Emrick bounced back to go 3-for-4 with a double and two RBI in the nightcap. Newman also had three hits on the day. He finished at 3-for-7 with two runs scored, a double and two RBI.
Additionally, Lutz went 2-for-3 with a double and one run scored. Prior to the weekend, he had just two hits in 23 at-bats.
SIU will be idle for the week, before hitting the road to face Southwest Missouri State in a four-game series on Apr. 2-4. The Dawgs will be the first visiting team to play in SMS' new state-of-the-art 8,000-seat Hammons Field, which plays host to this year's MVC Tournament.