Connor Kopach had a career-high three hits and a stolen base in the win.
April 15, 2014
By Scott Gierman
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Southern Illinois shook up the lineup and produced its best offensive output of the season in a 16-5 win over UT Martin on a chilly Tuesday evening at Itchy Jones Stadium. The Salukis (19-17) set season-highs in runs, hits and doubles as they recorded their largest margin of victory in 2014. With the win, SIU swept the season series from UT Martin and has now won five in a row against the Skyhawks (4-30).
"I'm proud of our hitters," SIU Coach Ken Henderson said. "Not only did we get a lot of hits, but we had good approaches. We didn't try to do too much. I thought our approaches were probably as good as we've had all year."
On Tuesday's lineup card, Henderson moved speedy freshmen Dyllin Mucha and Connor Kopach to the top two spots in the order and dropped leadoff man Jake Welch to the third spot. The impact was felt immediately as Mucha led off the first inning by stretching a routine single to center field into a double. Kopach then beat out a bunt single, and the table was set as Welch and Ryan Casillas each followed with RBI doubles in the four-run first inning.
"We've been thinking about Welch in the three hole," Henderson said. "And with those two (Mucha and Kopach) in the lineup, with their speed, we were excited about seeing that look. They have the speed to create a lot of excitement, and they did that. They set the tone with those first two hitters."
The top four spots in the Saluki lineup combined for nine hits in 19 at-bats and drove in 10 runs in the contest. Of SIU's 19 hits, nine were doubles.
After UT Martin rallied for four runs in the top of the fourth inning to tie the game at 4-4, SIU responded with four runs of its own in the bottom of the inning to take an 8-4 advantage and wrestle momentum back to its side.
"We took away everything they gained right there," Henderson said. "They were feeling good about themselves. They had just gotten back in the game, then when we scored four more runs and got the lead back. If you're in the other dugout, that's just demoralizing. That was a crucial inning, and then from there, we rolled."
The rally began when Will Farmer hit a double with two outs and the bases empty. Dyllin Mucha singled to center to score Farmer and give the Salukis a 5-4 lead. Mucha then stole second base and moved to third as the throw went into center field. Connor Kopach singled home Mucha then stole second base. Jake Welch followed with an RBI single and scored on Ryan Casillas' second RBI double of the game to cap the four-run inning.
SIU came right back with four more runs in the fifth inning to extend the lead to 12-4 and effectively put the game away. The fifth-inning rally was helped out by three walks, a hit batsman and Tyler Rolland's bunt single.
Aaron Snyder earned the win for the Salukis with one and two-thirds scoreless innings in relief. He took over for Brad Drust, who made his first start of the season. Drust tossed three scoreless frames before leaving with one out in the four-run fourth inning. It was the second appearance of the season for both seniors.
Connor McFadden was called upon to pitch the ninth inning. He made his first relief appearance after beginning the season by starting seven midweek games. The redshirt freshman issued one walk but struck out the last two batters of the game.
"He threw strikes," Henderson said. "That's what we needed to see. We wanted to get him in a little less pressure situation. I'm very proud of the fact that he did throw strikes and threw some very good pitches."
SIU will try to keep the momentum going when the Salukis host Austin Peay on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. at Itchy Jones Stadium. Freshman Austin McPheron will make the start for SIU.