April 14, 2006
By Jeff Honza
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Senior Matt Brewer's walk-off home run in the bottom of the10th inning gave Southern Illinois University (23-14, 4-3) a 3-2 come-from-behind win over No. 22 Creighton (20-10, 5-5) earlier today at Abe Martin Field.
Brewer pulled ahead, 1-0, in the count against CU ambidextrous reliever Pat Venditte, who had given up only two homers in 18 appearances prior to today.
As soon as Venditte's second offering came off Brewer's bat, the Saluki dugout erupted, as the ball sailed over the left field wall to seal a big 3-2 win in the series-opener of a pivotal Missouri Valley Conference set.
"It was a huge win," said Saluki head coach Dan Callahan. "We faced good pitching all day and it was nice to see a close game end like it did."
You could say the baseball Gods were watching over SIU, as it committed four errors, including three on the left side of the infield. But, none of those miscues figured into the Bluejays' scoring.
"We got lucky," said Callahan. "It doesn't happen very often where you make four errors in a game and still win a 3-2 game."
CU got on the board first with two runs in the third. Ryan Urzendowski drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on an ensuing bunt single by Ross Sinclair. This week's Valley Player-of-the-Week, John Nowaczyk successfully moved the runners with a sacrifice bunt, before Chad Ogden's unorthodox sacrifice fly in foul territory plated Urzendowski. Zach Daeges' RBI-single followed that, as the Jays took a 2-0 lead.
CU starter Adam Schaecher, who gave up three hits in the first, held the Salukis to only two in the next four innings.
Schaecher also worked five scoreless innings and entered the sixth after retiring six-straight Saluki hitters.
At the time, SIU needed a spark, and Grant Gerrard's leadoff home run against a wind blowing from right to left, couldn't have come at a better time.
SIU quickly tied things up at 2-2 in the seventh when Nathan Emrick led off with a single and advanced to second on a throwing error by Daeges. Emrick moved to third on an infield single by Scott Elmendorf and scored on a sacrifice fly by Erik Alvarez.
CU had runners on second and third with one out in the top of the eighth, but came up empty when Gerrard caught Urzendowski's routine fly ball to right and gunned down Chase Odenreider at the plate for an inning-ending double play.
The Bluejays had another runner in scoring position in the ninth after Ogden doubled down the left field line with two outs. Freshman reliever Danny Wells, however, got Daeges to fly out in foul territory along the third base side for a big out.
Daeges, the league's top hitter this season, went 1-for-5 on the day.
Cody Adams, who retired the Bluejays in order on three ground balls in the 10th, was credited with the win. He moved to 3-2 on the year.
Venditte fell to 2-1 after allowing two hits and one run to go along with a strikeout and a walk in 2.1 innings.
Jordan Powell started on the mound for SIU and did a nice job of pitching around mistakes.
He scattered seven hits, struck out four, walked two and gave up two runs in eight innings, the longest outing by a Saluki starting pitcher this season.
Gerrard, Brewer and Emrick topped the Salukis with two hits, as SIU outhit CU, 12-8. There were also a total of 21 runners left on base between the two teams.
The Salukis and Bluejays resume their series tomorrow at 2 p.m., CST. Tyler Norrick will get the ball for SIU.