April 12, 2012
By Scott Gierman
DALLAS - Dallas Baptist hit four home runs and scored 10 runs in the midde innings to take the first game of a three-game series against SIU, 11-8, Thursday night at Patriot Field. With the loss, SIU has dropped three in a row.
SIU led 5-0 in the fourth and 7-3 in the top of the fifth before the Patriots offense outscored the Salukis 8-1 the rest of the way.
“We just didn’t execute enough pitches,” SIU Coach Ken Henderson said. “It wasn’t like they were hammering balls, but they got the barrel on too many balls. As a hitter, it was a great night to hit. It’s a hitter friendly park, and we just didn’t execute enough pitches.”
Dallas Baptist shortstop Joel Hutter broke an 8-8 tie with a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning. It was his second home run of the game.
After surrendering a five run lead, Southern Illinois (18-16) had tied the game at 8-8 when Chris Serritella led off the top of the sixth inning with a home run, the 25th of his SIU career. He is now tied with Jordan Sivertsen for the team and the conference lead with eight home runs on the season.
With the wind blowing out to left field, the park played very small, and the two teams combined for six home runs. Henderson said the difference in the game was the Saluki pitching staff’s inability to execute pitches.
“You have to keep the ball down in those conditions,” Henderson said. “Their team is built for that park. The wind blows like that all the time here, and it’s a short park, but when we did make quality pitches down, we got outs.”
Aaron Snyder took the loss for SIU. He surrendered three runs, including Hutter’s second home run of the game, in two and two-thirds innings of work to even his record at 2-2.
Patriots reliever Stuart Pudenz shut down SIU’s offense for the final two innings of the game to deny any thoughts of another comeback. He allowed just one hit on his way to his third save of the year.
“(Pudenz) has a very good arm, made some quality pitches and hit spots,” Henderson said. “He executed pitches. He didn’t give us anything to barrel up. That’s the difference. Their bullpen threw up zeroes, and we didn’t execute pitches.”
The game turned into a back-and-forth slugfest in the middle innings. SIU put together a three-run, two-out rally in the top of the fourth inning. John Menken started it with a double to right field. He scored on Nick Johnson’s single to center field. Welch chopped one over the first baseman’s head, and Donny Duschinsky drew a walk to load the bases for Chris Serritella. He lined a ball through the left side of the infield to score two runs and give SIU a 5-0 lead.
Dallas Baptist responded in the bottom of the fourth inning with their own two-out, three-run rally. Duncan McAlpine gave DBU its first run of the game when he hit a high fly ball that just cleared the wall in left field for a solo home run. That cut SIU’s lead to 5-1. After the next two batters reached, Austin Elkins hit a blooper to shallow right field which dropped in for a double and scored two more runs. That cut the lead to 5-3.
Southern Illinois put two more runs on the board in the top of the fifth inning to extend the lead to 7-3. Jake Welch hit a bases loaded sacrifice fly to left-center field for the second run of the inning. Donny Duschinsky then nearly drove in two more when he flew out deep to left-center field to end the inning.
DBU resumed their onslaught in the bottom of the fifth inning, scoring five runs to take their first lead of the game at 8-7. Hutter started the big inning with a solo home run. Three batters later Duncan McAlpine added a two-run double and then scored on Ryan Behmanesh’s two-run homer. McAlpine had four hits, three of them for extra bases, and drove in three runs. All four of the Patriot’s home runs were to left field, where a fierce wind blew for most of the game.
The game was relatively quiet in the early innings. SIU starter Cody Forsythe had scattered two hits in three and two thirds innings before running into trouble in the middle innings. He pitched five innings and gave up a career-worst eight runs off 10 hits in the no-decision. Nine of the last 13 batters Forsythe faced reached base, and eight of them scored.
SIU had built a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Donny Duschinsky doubled and scored on Austin Montgomery’s first inning single. Brian Bajer’s first home run of 2012, a fly ball over the monster wall in left field, extended the lead to 2-0 in the second inning.
Dallas Baptist starter Cy Sneed didn’t fair much better. He allowed five runs off eight hits in four innings. He entered the game with a 2.30 season ERA.
“We did a lot of good things,” SIU Coach Ken Henderson said. “We did a good job offensively. We got the big lead. We played good defense. We just didn’t do enough to win the game. We need to learn how to win and to finish games.”
The series will continue Friday evening at 6:30 p.m. Central Time. Cameron Maldonado will make the start for Southern Illinois against Taylor Massey for Dallas Baptist.