Salukis hang on for 7-6 win over UT Martin

    Austin Montgomery matched a season high with four hits and drove in three.

    Austin Montgomery matched a season high with four hits and drove in three.
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    April 16, 2013

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    CARBONDALE, Ill. – Southern Illinois held on for a 7-6 win over UT Martin Tuesday afternoon at Abe Martin Field. In addition to evening their season record, the Salukis (18-18) swept the season series against UTM (10-26) and notched their seventh consecutive nonconference victory.

    After allowing three runs in the first inning, SIU starter Brad Drust found his rhythm to retire the next nine batters in a row and tossed five and a third innings to pick up his second straight win. He improved his record to 3-2 on the year. The redshirt junior walked the first two batters of the game but did not allow a walk or a run after the first inning.

    “After the first inning, I kind of found my stride,” Drust said. “I wasn’t hitting my spots in the first inning, so I wasn’t getting rewarded with borderline strikes. They were close, but they weren’t there.”

    Trailing 3-2 with one out in the bottom of the second inning, the Salukis delivered four consecutive hits as Rennie Troggio, Matt Jones and Austin Montgomery each drove in a run to give SIU a 5-3 advantage. SIU did not surrender the lead from there.

    “The hitters did a very good job of picking me up after that first inning,” Drust said. “They came back and scored two. Then the next inning to score three more and give us the lead, that really let me settle in even more.”

    Despite being handed a 3-0 lead in the first inning, UT Martin starter Cody Miller had a difficult afternoon. He faced five batters in the game and left before recording an out. In his first start of the year, the sophomore walked two batters, hit two batters and allowed a two-run single to Montgomery.

    “They gave us some gifts there in the first inning,” Henderson said, “but (Montgomery) had a big hit there to drive in the run. It was basically like starting back over, which is what we needed.”

    John Skubina relieved Miller with the bases loaded and got two pop ups and a flyout to escape with the Skyhawks still in front 3-2. Skubina stayed in for four innings of work and allowed five runs, four of them earned, to take his first loss of the season.

    Southern tacked on what proved to be two key insurance runs in the middle innings. After Jones reached on a one-out error in the fourth, he scored when Montgomery doubled to the gap in right-center field to extend the lead to 6-3. Montgomery finished the day 4-for-5 with three RBI to up his season average to a team-best .348.

    Wes Neece extended the lead to 7-3 in the fifth inning when Cody Daily hit his first of two doubles on the day and scored on Neece’s single to right field.

    UT Martin cut the lead to one run with a three-run seventh inning rally against Lee Weld. Weld relieved Drust with two runners aboard in the sixth inning and got out of it with a double play.

    Weld then surrendered five consecutive singles to start the seventh before departing with no outs and the lead down to 7-5. Tyler Dray entered and allowed a sacrifice fly to cut the Dawgs advantage to 7-6. The lefty induced two more flyouts to escape the inning with the go-ahead run on base.

    Jacob Williams threw a scoreless eighth, and Todd Eaton closed the game with a scoreless ninth to record his sixth save of the year. He now has 16 for his career, which puts him alone in third place on SIU’s career list.

    “I was hoping we wouldn’t have to use (Eaton) after he had a two-inning save on Sunday,” Henderson said. “But he threw well just like he normally does. He filled up the zone and had good stuff.”