Nathan Forer has now only allowed one earned run in three starts this year
April 3, 2010
By Jason Clay
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Senior right-handed pitcher Nathan Forer did not allow an earned run in eight innings of work as he led the Southern Illinois baseball team to a 3-1 win over Bradley on Saturday at Abe Martin Field.
The win gives head coach Dan Callahan his 200th career Missouri Conference Victory and he becomes just the fifth coach in league history to reach the milestone. SIU (13-14, 3-2 MVC) has now won four-straight games and will look to sweep the Braves (6-15, 0-5) in Sunday's series finale at 1 p.m.
"It all starts on the bump, it's all pitching," Callahan said of the teams winning streak. "We've had some good games from some guys on the mound and they have kept us in games, but we have to get on track offensively to give us some breathing room.
"Forer pounds the strike zone for the most part and he's not going to pitch around guys. He's got good ability and the thing I like about Nathan is we think he's good, but he thinks he's good to. That's a part of pitching in that you have to feel confident about yourself."
Forer (1-1) only gave up six hits in his eight masterful innings on the mound and he had four strikeouts and two walks. In three starts this year, Forer has only allowed one earned run to come home and his ERA now stands at a microscopic 0.74.
Freshman pitcher Lee Weld threw a scoreless ninth inning to record the first save of his career.
"It's good to be out there on a Saturday and it's good to take the series," Forer said of SIU securing the series win. "We're just taking it one game at a time. Guys are playing hard and we're showing a lot of confidence in our pitching. We're feeling pretty good and hopefully we can take that into tomorrow and the series next weekend."
Bradley's Joe Bircher (1-3) was the victim in Saturday's pitchers dual. He threw the entire game and allowed seven hits, but gave up a costly homer in the eight that drew the loss for himself and the Braves.
Junior second baseman Blake Pinnon gave the Salukis the 2-1 lead with his solo home run that came with two outs in that eighth inning. Before that at-bat Pinnon had just two hits in his previous 22, but he cranked his sixth homer to left against a stiff wind that was blowing from right to left. It was his only hit on the day.
"The whole day the guy had been pitching us away, away, away and I finally got a fastball in and turned on it," Pinnon said of his home run. "I got lucky and it went out. This win was huge and it builds team chemistry."
Center fielder Chris Murphy was the only Saluki with two hits and he scored a run on Chirs Serritella's double in the sixth that tied the game. Freshman catcher Austin Montgomery added an insurance run with his RBI single after Pinnon's homer.
Bradley was the first to score Saturday, as they plated an unearned run in the top of the fourth. With one out and runners on second and third, Brad Kimball hit a grounder to third and Tony Lepore threw home attempting to get Matt Fritz out. Montgomery was unable to handle the throw at the plate, allowing the Bradley run.
The Braves threatened to extend their lead in the fifth, when they got a leadoff single and then two straight walks from Forer loaded the bases. The Saluki senior showed his resolve and after a strikeout, Forer got Fritz to ground out into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.
The sixth inning mirrored the fifth, as Bradley had runners on first and third with one out. Forer and the Saluki defense once again kept BU from capitalizing, and Jason Leblebijian ended the inning by grounding into the second double play of the game.
SIU's pitching and defense built a little momentum for the offense, and they responded to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth. After a leadoff single from Murphy and a sacrifice from Pinnon that moved him to second, Serritella's opposite field double brought Murphy home for SIU's first run of the game.
After a scoreless seventh, Pinnon gave Southern Illinois its first lead of the game with his two-out solo home run to left.
That homer rattled Bircher, who then walked the next two batters. Montgomery then came up and hit a pop fly to right field, but the wind blew the ball to shallow right center and it dropped, allowing Serritella to score from second for an insurance run.
That proved to be more than enough, as Weld came in to get the save and the game ended in the third ground-ball double play turned by the Salukis.