Salukis fight back in 8-5 win over Missouri State

    Sam Coonrod picked up his first conference win with a strong six-inning performance.

    Sam Coonrod picked up his first conference win with a strong six-inning performance.
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    April 14, 2013

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    CARBONDALE, Ill. – Southern Illinois fought back from a 4-0 first inning deficit to down Missouri State 8-5 Sunday afternoon at Abe Martin Field. With the win, the Salukis (17-18, 2-7 MVC) avoided a sweep at the hands of the first place Bears (21-10, 6-3 MVC).

    “For us to come back and win this game and play as well as we did,” SIU Coach Ken Henderson said, “that’s as proud as I’ve been of our club all year long. That’s just a great win.”

    SIU starter Sam Coonrod turned in a gutsy performance to earn his first conference win of the year. The sophomore battled illness throughout the morning, vomiting multiple times before the start of the game, but decided to tough it out.

    “He was extremely sick today,” Henderson said. “We didn’t know if he was going to throw, and as soon as we took him out, he was in the clubhouse throwing up. That’s the kind of effort he gave us today.”

    Coonrod threw 25 pitches and allowed six men aboard before recording the first out of the day. The first batter of the game reached base on an error. A walk and a single loaded the bases, and Koby Peebles, Keenan Maddox and Conner Wilson each followed with an RBI single to give MSU a 3-0 lead with the bases still loaded. Joey Hawkins grounded out to score the final run of the inning and put SIU in a 4-0 hole. Only two of the runs in the inning were earned.

    Coonrod fought back to retire 12 of next 14 hitters. The sophomore allowed just three hits over the next five scoreless innings after the bumpy first inning. He left with SIU in front 6-4 after completing the top of the sixth inning.

    “I didn’t feel too good the entire game, but I felt good when I came out,” a still visibly fatigued Coonrod said with a laugh after the game.

    Southern Illinois took its first lead of the game and broke a 4-4 tie with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth. Rennie Troggio led off the inning with an infield single. After a pair of groundouts moved him to third, Ryan Casillas was hit by a pitch to put runners at the corners. Troggio came home to score on an error on a failed pickoff attempt. Casillas then scored from second base when Luke Mottashed singled to left field.

    Before Sunday's comeback, Henderson stressed the importance of perservering through difficult situations such as an early deficit.  

    “(Henderson) told us we can’t let adversity get to us,” Mottashed said. “We need to battle through adversity, and I thought we did a good job of that today.”

    SIU had tied the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the fourth after Matt Jones led off the inning with a walk and Austin Montgomery reached on an error. Casillas singled home Jones, and Montgomery scored on Cody Daily’s single.

    After stranding 13 runners on Saturday, Southern made the most of its chances on Sunday, translating its nine hits, all of which were singles, into eight runs.

    “We picked up runs,” Henderson said. “We got guys on. We bunted well, and we executed. We didn’t have a huge inning, but when we got opportunities, we took advantage of them.”

    The Salukis began their climb back into the game when they manufactured a couple runs in the bottom of the second inning to cut the lead to 4-2. Austin Montgomery and Ryan Casillas started the inning with back-to-back singles and came around to score on a groundout and a balk, respectively.

    Toddd Eaton recorded his fifth save of the year with a scoreless eighth and ninth innings. He allowed just one hit and one walk. It was his first two-inning save of the season. With 15 career saves, he is now tied for third most in school history. 

    Aaron Snyder pitched the seventh inning for the Salukis to protect an 8-4 lead. After the first two batters of the inning reached on a single and a double, he limited the damage to just one run and got out of it with a strikeout and a ground ball.