April 7, 2007
By Jeff Honza
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Jeff Rickert, Jason Brunelli and Josh Wallace each homered to lead Valparaiso University (8-15) to a 6-5 win over Southern Illinois (21-9) earlier today at Abe Martin Field.
Valpo snapped SIU's 10-game winning streak at home and handed the Salukis only their second loss in Carbondale this year.
Despite a valiant comeback, two major errors came back to haunt SIU.
Rickert led off the game by reaching on an error by Saluki third baseman Scott Elmendorf. With two outs following back-to-back strikeouts, Brian Rzepka singled to give the Crusaders runners at first and second.
Brunelli then clubbed Jordan Powell's second offering over the wall in left center to give Valpo an unearned 3-0 lead.
"It was disappointing," said SIU head coach Dan Callahan. "If we don't commit that error in the first inning, that guy doesn't come to the plate. Brunelli's home run proved to be the difference in the game."
The Crusaders added another unearned run with the help of a fielding error by Dean Cademartori in the fourth.
An inning later, Rickert took Powell deep over the left field wall to push Valpo's lead to 5-1.
One more bomb, this time by Wallace, gave the Crusaders a five-run advantage in the seventh.
It appeared as though Valpo had things under control, but the Salukis had other things in mind.
The Dawgs scored three runs on five hits in the bottom of the seventh.
Tyler Choate doubled to left and went to third on a single by Kevin Koski. After Koski moved to second on a wild pitch, Aaron Roberts scored Choate on a sacrifice fly. Adam Hills followed with a base hit to plate Koski. Tyler Lairson's two-out single knocked in Hills to narrow the gap to 6-4.
Koski represented the tying run later in the inning, but was stranded at first base.
Dallas Cawiezell then sat down the Dawgs in order in the ninth to earn his first save.
Elliott Gibbs evened his record to 2-2 on the year after allowing seven hits and three runs in six innings.
Powell suffered his second-straight loss, falling to 5-4. He gave up seven hits, including two home runs, struck out four and allowed five runs (four unearned) in 5.2 innings.
Offensively, SIU outhit Valpo, 12-9, with every Saluki in the staring lineup getting at least one hit. The Salukis also left 11 runners on base.
Michael Finigan and Elmendorf topped the Dawgs with two hits each.
SIU and Valpo wrap up their series Sunday at 1 p.m., CST. Cody Adams (7-1) will start on the mound for the Salukis.