March 28, 2007
By Jeff Honza
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Southern Illinois University (20-6) exploded for eight runs on nine hits in the fourth inning to overcome a four-run deficit and beat Tennessee-Martin (7-16), 13-8, earlier today at Abe Martin Field.
SIU posted its 10th-straight win at home and improved to 15-1 in Carbondale this year. The win also capped a perfect 8-0 homestand for the Dawgs dating back to March 16.
"I liked how we never gave up today," said Saluki head coach Dan Callahan. "Our hitting was contagious in the fourth inning, and we got some big hits when we needed to. I was also proud of our defense, which made some great plays in key situations."
The Salukis pounded out 16 hits, fourteen of which came from the fourth inning on.
SIU fell behind, 4-0, in the first inning when UTM cashed in on a rocky start by freshman Tyler Choate.
Choate, who struggled with his control, issued two walks, balked twice, hit a batter and gave up a pair of two-out hits in two-thirds of an inning.
Brad Lawrence relieved Choate to face the eighth hitter of the game, and went on to throw three-straight innings of no-hit, shutout baseball. Lawrence, at one time, retired six in a row between the second and fourth innings.
UTM pitching, which entered the day second-to-last in the Ohio Valley Conference with a 8.41 ERA, fell to pieces in the fourth.
SIU tore up starting left-hander Eric Walker, who had limited the Salukis to two hits in his first three innings.
The Dawgs sent a dozen men to the plate in what turned out to be their biggest inning through 26 games this season.
Tyler Lairson and Chris Crank led off the fourth with back-to-back singles. Three-straight one-out base knocks by Kevin Koski (RBI), Aaron Roberts and Adam Hills (RBI) followed, before Dean Cademartori drove in two runs on a two-out single through the right side.
UTM managed to add another run in the fifth, but SIU tacked on four more runs to bury the Skyhawks for good in the seventh.
Crank doubled to right center and went to third on Koski's single. Roberts then walked to load the bases. Hills' double down the left field line scored Crank and Koski. Roberts later touched home when Mark Kelly grounded out to short. Cademartori's two-out RBI-single extended the Salukis' lead to 13-5.
UTM answered with three more runs, including one in the eighth and two in the ninth, but it wasn't enough, as the Skyhawks remained winless on the road (0-12).
Lawrence improved to 2-0 on the year after allowing one hit and striking out three in 4.1 innings.
Walker (1-4) suffered the loss. He gave up 10 hits and nine runs (eight earned), while fanning three in 3.2 innings.
Pitchers from both teams issued a combined 14 walks on the day, 10 by SIU and four by UTM.
Offensively, every Saluki in the starting lineup got a hit except Kelly (0-for-5). As a result, his hitting streak ended at 21 games.
Kelly and Wichita State's Damon Sublett began the week tied with the longest hitting streaks in the Missouri Valley Conference this season, but both ended within a day of each other. Sublett's 21-game hitting streak came to a halt Tuesday.
Crank paved the way with a career-high four hits. He went 4-for-5 with two runs scored, a pair of doubles and one RBI.
Koski followed with three hits, while Hills added two hits and three RBI and Cademartori chipped in two hits and four RBI.
Roberts scored a game-high three runs for SIU, as well.
Bryce Carden (2), Jason Hockaday (2) and Shayne Martin (2) combined for six of UTM's seven hits out of the sixth, seventh and ninth spots in the lineup.
Defensively, SIU went without an error for the fifth time this year.
SIU earned its 20th win of the season during the month of March for the second time under Callahan.
Interestingly enough, the Salukis also won their 20th game on the exact same day -- defeated Northern Iowa, 8-1, on Mar. 28 -- of the 1999 season. The 1999 and 2007 clubs are the quickest to 20 wins in the Callahan era.
SIU heads to MVC preseason-favorite Evansville for a key showdown this weekend. The Salukis and Purple Aces open a three-game series Friday at 6 p.m., CST. It is the first time SIU hits the road for three weekend games in over a month.