April 6, 2012
By Scott Gierman
CARBONDALE, Ill. – SIU dominated every aspect of the game Friday afternoon to begin a three-game series with a 9-1 victory over Evansville at Abe Martin Field. Every member of the Salukis (17-13, 4-3 MVC) lineup recorded at least one hit against the Purple Aces (19-11, 3-4 MVC).
Southern pounded Evansville pitching early and often, scoring at least one run in each of the first four innings to build a 7-1 lead. The middle of the order did most of the damage. Chris Serritella, Austin Montgomery and Jordan Sivertsen combined for nine hits in 14 at-bats and drove in seven runs.
“We wanted to set the tone today for the series,” Sivertsen said. “Right away get out to an early lead, and we did that. That was really big for us.”
SIU Coach Ken Henderson stopped short of calling it the best game SIU has played all season, but had to dig deep to find something to criticize after his team’s terrific performance.
“From a coaching standpoint it’s still frustrating that we left some runners out there,” Henderson said. “But really it was awfully good. We threw well. We swung it extremely well. It was just a good ballgame for us.”
Sivertsen’s sixth home run of the season extended the SIU lead to 5-1 in the bottom of the third inning. All six of his home runs have come in his last nine games. He drove in two more in the bottom of the fourth inning on a double over the left fielder’s head to extend the lead to 7-1.
“I’ve been seeing the ball pretty well lately,” Sivertsen said. “The past couple games and last weekend too. (Evansville starter Cole Isom) made a couple mistakes. The home run was a pitch up, and the same thing with the double, and you have to take advantage of that.”
Sivertsen matched a career high with four hits and had nine total bases in the game. He had a chance to complete the cycle with a triple but hit his second double of the day instead. In his last two games he is six-for-eight with three home runs and nine RBI.
“He’s on fire right now,” Henderson said. “He’s been very good mechanically the last couple weeks, and he’s been more aggressive. I think that’s part of it too, and that comes with confidence.”
All the support was more than enough for Cody Forsythe, who allowed a run off five hits in seven innings to record his second victory of the season. He lowered his season ERA to 2.86. In three conference starts in 2012, he is 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA.
“He did a great job just pounding the zone,” Henderson said. “That’s what you have to do when you have a lead. Make them beat you and not help them out.”
Seven of SIU’s runs were charged to Isom, who gave up 10 hits and struck out seven Salukis in four innings. He dropped his record to 1-4 with the loss.
Montgomery put SIU on the board in the first inning with his two-run double that rolled just inside the third baseline. That gave Southern a 2-0 lead.
Evansville’s only run came in the second inning when Kevin Kaczmarski led off with a double and made his way home thanks to a fly out followed by a ground ball. That cut the lead to 2-1, but it was as close as the Purple Aces got all day. Southern quickly tallied two more in the bottom of the second inning, and Forsythe retired 16 of the last 20 batters he faced.
“Cody is the perfect guy to give a lead,” Henderson said. “He’s going to pound the zone. He’s not going to get himself in trouble. He can execute pitches, and he did just a phenomenal job. When it was 4-1 after the second, we felt awfully good with him on the mound.”
Southern Illinois actually had a couple chances to end the game early via the 10-run rule but left the bases loaded in the sixth inning and grounded into an inning ending double play to end the seventh.
Matt Murphy scattered three this in his two scoreless innings out of the bullpen to keep Southern in control and close out the win.
The series will continue Saturday at Abe Martin Field with the first pitch scheduled for 2 p.m. Cameron Maldonado will look to improve upon his 4-0 record as he takes the mound for SIU.