April 6, 2014
By Scott Gierman
CARBONDALE, Ill. – Southern Illinois struggled to finish off opposing hitters and finish run-scoring opportunities as it lost the series finale to Bradley by a score of 7-2 Sunday afternoon at Itchy Jones Stadium. The Salukis (17-14, 2-4 MVC) dropped two out of three games in the series against the Braves (17-10, 3-6 MVC).
Bradley took a 3-0 lead in the top of the third inning when six-straight BU hitters reached base. The Braves loaded the bases when Spencer Gaa doubled, Isaac Smith hit an infield single and Chris Godinez was hit by a pitch. Greg Partyka, Tyler Leffler and Drew Carlile each followed with an RBI single against Saluki starting pitcher Aaron Hauge.
Bradley added a run in the fifth inning to extend the lead to 4-0. Max Murphy hit a one-out double to center field. Tyler Leffler’s infield single moved him to second base, and Drew Carlile drove in Murphy with a two-strike, two-out single. That knocked Hauge out of the game.
Half of the Braves 12 hits came with two strikes in the count.
“They did a great job of battling when we had two strikes on them and putting balls in play,” Henderson said. “They were battling and not striking out, so tip your hat to them. Our pitchers had two strikes on people all day and couldn’t execute a pitch with two strikes.”
Hauge allowed a season-high four earned runs off a season-high eight hits in his four and two-thirds innings of work. It was the first time since the opening weekend of the season that he did not complete the fifth inning. The left-handed junior took his second loss of the season as he failed for the second week in a row to pick up his team-leading fourth win.
“Everything was up the in zone,” Henderson said of Hauge’s pitch location Sunday. “They’re one of the best hitting ball clubs in the league, and we knew that. You have to execute pitches, but there were just too many pitches up in the zone.”
“We had runners in scoring position, but we didn’t have quality ABs,” Henderson said. “We had quality ABs when nobody was on. We can get guys on but can’t hit when it counts because our hitters change their approach.”
The tone was set in the first inning when Jake Welch hit a leadoff double to right field. After Parker Osborne moved him to third with a groundout, Cody Daily struck out on a called third strike and Ryan Casillas grounded out to end the inning.
“That game changed in the first inning.,” Henderson said. “We got a double and did great job moving the runner over, and then we struck out looking. That changed the whole complexion of the game. If we get that run in, you’d see a completely different ballgame.”
The Saluki hitters produced eight hits and drew eight walks but stranded 10 runners. Three scoreless innings ended with a runner at third base.
SIU’s hitters finally came through in the seventh inning. Down 7-0, the Salukis got on the board with a pair of runs off reliever Sean Safko. Will Farmer hit a one-out single through the left side, and Welch drew a walk. After a wild pitch moved them both into scoring position, Parker Osborne drove in Farmer with a single to right field. Bradley then lifted Safko in favor of Eric Scheuermann, who surrendered a sac fly to Cody Daily to make it a 7-2 game.
The two-run seventh inning could have made it a tight game had the Salukis not allowed three runs, two of them unearned, to cross the plate in the top of the inning. All three runs in the inning were charged to Chad Whitmer. The freshman had pitched a scoreless inning and a third before leaving with the bases loaded and out in the seventh.
Kyle Pruemer relieved Whitmer and allowed the three runners to score on an error, a safety squeeze bunt and an infield single. Pruemer stayed in to finish the game. He tossed two and two-thirds innings, was not charged with any runs and surrendered only a pair of infield singles.
SIU has the day off Monday and will return to the road on Tuesday for a 5 p.m. game at Southeast Missouri State before hosting Indiana State for a three-game conference series beginning Friday, April 11 at 6:30 p.m.