April 14, 2012
By Scott Gierman
DALLAS – For the third day in a row, one big inning was the difference in the game as Dallas Baptist broke a 5-5 tie with a six-run eighth inning to defeat SIU 11-6 Saturday afternoon at Patriot Field. SIU (18-18) managed a run in the top of the ninth, but the rally fell short when the game ended on a bases loaded double play.
SIU walked four batters and surrendered a grand slam to Joel Hutter in the eighth inning to turn a tight game into a blowout. With the loss, Dallas Baptist (24-10) became the first team to sweep a three-game series from SIU in 2012. The Patriots have won seven consecutive weekend series.
SIU’s bullpen threw two innings and allowed nine runs off three hits and six walks.
“Our bullpen was terrible,” SIU Coach Ken Henderson said. “That’s just unacceptable. We handed our bullpen a 5-2 lead late in the game, and they didn’t take advantage of it. They didn’t do anything to help us win.”
Southern had rallied for three-runs in the top of the seventh to take a 5-2 lead and was in position to snap a four-game losing streak. Luke Mottashed drew a leadoff walk and scored on Jake Welch’s double to right-center field. Donny Duschinsky drove in two insurance runs on his single that scored Welch and Rennie Troggio.
Dallas Baptist quickly responded to tie the game at 5-5 in the bottom of the seventh on Michael Miller’s two-run single to center field. Earlier in the inning, Joel Hutter had delivered a sacrifice fly that cut the Salukis lead to 5-3. All three runs in the inning were unearned after SIU failed to record an out on a potential double play ball when there was one out and a runner at first base.
Stuart Pudenz earned the win for the Patriots. He entered with one out and a runner at second base in the eighth inning and recorded two quick outs. Pudenz finished the game for DBU and improved his record to 4-0 on the year.
Sam Coonrod matched the longest outing of his career with a strong six-inning effort. He allowed two runs off five hits. He was in line for the win before Dallas Baptist tied the game in the seventh inning. Coonrod was able to come up with the big pitch when he needed it, stranding runners in scoring position in three different innings. He said his offspeed pitches helped him.
“My stuff was pretty good,” Coonrod said. “The fastball I was throwing, I think it was pretty good velocity, but it was located well, and my curveball was pretty good too. The changeup for the first time I think in my life, I finally got it going.”
Coonrod’s performance was even more impressive considering heavy winds were once again blowing out for most of the game. Those same conditions produced a total of 39 runs between the two clubs in the previous two nights.
“It was definitely in the back of my mind that the wind was blowing out,” Coonrod said, “so I really concentrated on keeping it down and in on their hands, and Luke (Mottashed) did a good job of keeping it on the inside of the plate so that helped out a lot.”
For the third game in a row, SIU was the first team on the board. Chris Serritella opened the scoring with his ninth home run of the season. That gave him 26 home runs for his career, moving him into a sixth place tie with Jim Adduci on the school’s all-time list.
Henderson said he believes confidence played a part in losing three games in Dallas despite having a lead in every game of the series.
“(Dallas Baptist) has had success,” Henderson said. “They expect to win, and that’s where we need to be. That’s the difference. They didn’t hit any better than us. They certainly didn’t play defense any better than us. They just compete extremely hard, and we need to learn how to do that.”
The Salukis record has returned to .500 for the first time since the Dawgs were 4-4 on Feb. 29.
SIU will have three days off before its next game, which is scheduled for Wednesday at 3 p.m. against Tennessee Martin at Abe Martin Field. It will begin a stretch of five straight home games for the Salukis.