April 7, 2012
By Scott Gierman
CARBONDALE, Ill. - One big inning proved to be more than enough for SIU as the Salukis cruised to a second straight victory over Evansville Saturday afternoon at Abe Martin Field. Southern (18-13, 5-3 MVC) rallied for nine runs in the bottom of the third inning on its way to an 11-6 win over the Purple Aces (19-12, 3-5 MVC).
SIU trailed Evansville 1-0 before sending 14 batters to the plate in the bottom of the third inning. The first five batters of the inning singled. The last of those singles was Jordan Sivertsen's two-run base hit, which gave SIU a 3-1 lead. After a sacrifice bunt to move two men into scoring position, catcher Brian Bajer delivered a two-run double to extend the lead to 5-1. It was the first of Bajer's three doubles on the day, which tied a school record.
"In that situation, I'm looking for a ball up and away for a sac fly," Bajer said. "Luckily enough I got on the barrel, and it carried over the center fielder's head. It was a good feeling to help the team out with some runners in scoring position."
In total SIU recorded eight hits in the nine-run frame as five players recorded an RBI in the inning.
"Hitting is very much contagious," SIU Coach Ken Henderson said. "It's extremely mental, and when you get two or three hits that are line drives, then everybody thinks they can hit. That's a great inning because those balls were hit well."
UE starter Sam Johns did not survive the nine-run inning. He allowed eight runs off nine hits in two and two-thirds of an inning to fall to 1-2 on the season.
With a comfortable lead to work with, SIU starter Cameron Maldonado was able to improve his record to 5-0. He allowed just one run off four hits in his first five innings of work before running into trouble in the sixth. He allowed three runs off three hits and a walk in the inning as the Purple Aces cut the lead to 10-4 but finished the inning and won his third consecutive start to begin the conference season.
Snyder looked dominant at times, striking out three batters in his two innings of work. He went out to start the ninth, but left with apparent tightness in his elbow. Henderson said he doesn't believe it to be serious and decided to err on the side of caution by calling on Dray, who allowed one run off one hit in his unexpected inning of work.
"(Snyder's) elbow locked up on him, but I think he's OK," Henderson said. "It's happened before where it just locks up on him, but I think he'll be alright. That was the first time we tried to run him out for a third inning. We were trying to extend him with a good lead."
SIU has now scored 20 runs off 33 hits in the first two games of the series against Evansville. The Salukis have also scored double digit runs in four of their last five games.
"We swung it well yesterday," Henderson said. "We've swung it well for a couple weeks. We've really had good approaches and good ABs for the last couple weeks. Coach Strain has done a lot of work with them, and that hard work is paying off."
Another good sign for SIU is that this game was first one it has played all year without committing an error.
"We've been getting better as we went along and made some nice plays today," Henderson said. "Austin Montgomery stuck his chest out in front of one and knocked it down. I'm glad that we're headed in the right direction."
SIU will try for its first conference series sweep of 2012 on Sunday when freshman Sam Coonrod (1-1, 3.20) makes his third start of the season. Evansville is scheduled to start freshman Kyle Freeland (2-3, 3.82). First pitch is slated for 1 p.m. at Abe Martin Field.