April 1, 2011
By Jason Clay
KENNESAW, Ga. - Junior pitcher Cameron Maldonado allowed just three hits and one run in six innings to lead the Southern Illinois baseball team to a 9-6 victory over Kennesaw State on Friday evening at Stillwell Stadium.
Maldonado picks up his second victory of the season (2-4) in arguably his best performance. He tied his season-high with seven strikeouts and worked around four walks. Of the 18 outs Maldonado recorded, all but one was either a strikeout or groundout. Only the three hits he allowed and one fly out reached the outfield.
"He was outstanding," interim head coach Ken Henderson said of Maldonado's day on the mound. "He gave us six great innings and only allowed three hits. Our kids were pretty confident coming in here, we had a good day today and hopefully that will carry over for us the rest of the series."
SIU (7-17) put together its best day offensively to match Maldonado's effort on the hill. Its nine runs scored is the second most in a game this year and its 15 hits matched its seasons-best. Southern did very well with two outs in the game, as it had seven hits and two runs with two outs.
"By far it was our best offensive night of the year," Henderson said. "We hit the ball well, had good swings, picked each other up and had a lot of two-out hits and two-out RBIs. It was a complete game offensively for the first time all year."
The play of the game came in the bottom of the seventh when SIU faced a little adversity. Following Maldonado's exit after the sixth, Kennesaw State (16-12) loaded the bases up with one out. Andy Chriscaden hit a long fly to the right-field wall, but Saluki outfielder Nick Johnson was able to catch the ball at the top of the wall to save it from being a grand slam.
SIU led 6-2 at that point, but if Johnson doesn't make that catch it would have tied the game. Instead, the Salukis came back and got two more runs in the eighth off of Jordan Sivertsen's double to center.
Sivertsen finished with a game-high three hits and he scored two runs along with the two he brought home with his double in the eighth. He was one of six Salukis with two or more hits in the game.
Johnson finished the day going 2-for-3 with two RBIs to go along with his game-changing catch in the seventh.
Ronnie Freeman's opposite field home run on a 3-2 count with two outs in the first inning gave the Owls an early 1-0 lead. Freeman finished the game going 2-for-3 with a walk. Kennesaw had seven hits in the game, but four costly errors.
SIU and the Owls are scheduled to meet at 1 p.m. CT Saturday for game two of the series.