Todd Eaton allowed two runs in six innings of work and took a no-decision after he left in line for the win.
April 12, 2014
CARBONDALE, Ill. – Southern Illinois surrendered three runs in the final two innings to lose 5-4 to Indiana State Saturday afternoon at Itchy Jones Stadium. The second-straight one-run game evened the series between the Salukis (18-16, 3-5 MVC) and the Sycamores (22-10, 6-5 MVC).
SIU stranded six runners in scoring position in the first five innings and couldn’t hold onto a two-run lead in the eighth inning.
“We can’t hit when it counts, and our pitchers can’t perform late in the game when it counts,” SIU Coach Ken Henderson said. “It was the hitters early and the pitchers late.”
Southern Illinois brought in closer Tyler Dray to maintain a 4-3 advantage heading to the ninth inning. The normally reliable closer allowed two runs off three hits in the inning to blow his first save in six chances this season. After striking out the first batter he faced, Dray allowed back-to-back singles to Derek Hannahs and Landon Curry. Cody Zimmerman then singled to right field to tie the game at 4-4, and Jacob Hayes followed with a well placed bunt to score Curry from third.
After rallying for two two-out runs in the 13th inning Friday night, SIU could not get anything going in the bottom of the ninth on Saturday. Josh Dove finished the game for Indiana State to complete four scoreless innings and earn his second win of the season.
ISU had cut the Saluki lead to 4-3 in the top of the eighth inning. Derek Fogel began the inning for SIU. After issuing a leadoff walk, he struck out Hayes and Mike Fitzgerald before surrendering back-to-back singles to allow a run.
While the go-ahead run came in the ninth inning, clutch hitting was the difference throughout the game. The Sycamores scored four of their five runs with two outs. Meanwhile with runners in scoring position, SIU went 2 for 13 and grounded into three inning-ending double plays.
SIU had the leadoff man on base in four of the first five innings but could not take advantage.
“The biggest part of the ballgame was the first four or five innings,” Henderson said. “We should’ve had eight or 10 runs. We could’ve had four or five runs without even getting a base hit. All we had to do was hit a ground ball in the middle of the field when we had runners at third with less than two outs.”
The Salukis appeared to take control of the game with four runs in the bottom of the sixth to take a 4-2 lead. The first seven batters of the inning reached base. Ryan Casillas, Cody Daily and Jake Hand began the inning with three-consecutive singles to load the bases and knock ISU starter Brad Lombard out of the game.
Reliever Nick Kolarik hit Matt Jones to force in a run and make it a 2-1 game. Tyler Rolland followed with a two-run single to left, which put SIU in front, 3-2. Kolarik departed the game after he hit Will Farmer to reload the bases. Jake Welch then drew a bases loaded walk to force in Jones and extend the lead to 4-2 with still nobody out. However, the inning ended with a popout and a double play with the bases still loaded.
“That was a huge momentum shift,” Rolland said of the four-run sixth inning. “We scored four there, but we’re right there to win games. We just have to get a couple more runs across to finish it off.”
ISU’s late offensive surge spoiled a solid outing from Saluki starter Todd Eaton. The senior allowed a two-out RBI hit in the first and third innings as Indiana State took a 2-0 lead. Eaton then settled in to retired 13 of the last 16 batters he faced.
“The first couple innings, I was behind a lot,” Eaton said. “Later in the game, I got ahead of guys, and then I could throw my pitch, which leads to more success than throwing something that they know is coming.”
After splitting the first two games, SIU will try to take the series with the finale set for 1 p.m. on Sunday at Itchy Jones Stadium.