April 18, 2012
By Scott Gierman
CARBONDALE, Ill. – Southern Illinois’ offense erupted for eight late runs to lift the Salukis (19-18) to a 10-3 trouncing of UT Martin (10-26) Wednesday afternoon at Abe Martin Field. The win ended SIU’s five-game losing streak.
“We had some opportunities early, and just didn’t have good ABs,” SIU Coach Ken Henderson said, “but we stayed with it and finally good things happened.”
Trailing 3-2 in the seventh inning, Southern finally got to Skyhawks starting pitcher Danny Kelley for the big inning the Dawgs had been waiting on all day. Brock Harding led off the inning with a double and scored on Brian Bajer’s single up the middle. That tied the game at 3-3.
Nick Johnson followed Bajer by sacrificing him to second base and reached base himself on Kelley’s error, which ended Kelley’s day. Two batters later, Donny Duschinsky hit a two-out double to right-center field, which dropped out of the glove of a diving Matt Young and scored two runs, giving SIU a 5-3 lead. It was Southern's first lead since the third inning.
“I swung at the first two pitches and dug myself into a little hole,” Duschinsky said, “but I gathered myself and managed to have a good at-bat. I just managed to stay on it and put it in play.”
The next batter, Chris Serritella, crushed a two-run home run to extend the lead to 7-3 and effectively put the game away. It was Serritella’s conference leading 10th home run of the season and tied him for fifth place in school history with 27 career home runs.
Nathan Dorris turned in another solid start on the mound for the Salukis to pick up his fifth win of the season. He allowed three runs, only one of them earned, off five hits in seven innings of work. Dorris did not allow an earned run in the game until there was one out in the seventh inning. He has now struck out 14 and walked just two in his last two starts.
“Dorris did a good job,” Henderson said. “He threw well and got us deep into the game. The one inning, we had the error, and he walked the next guy and gave up a couple runs, but the other six innings, he was pretty good.”
Kelley was charged with five runs, three of them earned, in six-plus innings of work to drop his record to 0-3 on the season. Kelley entered the game with a 9.18 ERA but held the Salukis to two runs off four hits in his first six innings of work.
The Salukis struggled to string together hits in those first six innings against Kelley before finally figuring it out late.
“Early on we weren’t having very good ABs,” Henderson said. “We didn’t adjust to their pitching very well. Everybody was out front and trying to do too much. Then suddenly we got a couple that fell, and it changed things. We got on a bit of a roll.”
The Skyhawks had given Kelley a 3-2 lead in the top of the seventh inning when Jake Deason hit a one-out triple to drive in Sonny Mastromatteo. However, UT Martin lost the momentum and a chance for a big inning on an apparent miscommunication. Deason broke home from third base and was tagged out well before he got to the plate as Grant Glasser swung through the pitch. Glasser then struck out to end the inning.
SIU had tied the game at 2-2 in the fifth thanks to some hustling on the basepaths. With two outs, Rennie Troggio dropped a hit in front of the center fielder and sped his way to a double. Jake Welch drove him home with an infield single. Troggio and Welch each had a stolen base in the game.
Despite entering the game with a five-game losing streak, Henderson was not overly concerned with his team’s mental state.
“Yeah, we lost five in a row, but nobody was down because we played well,” Henderson said. “Especially our position players. For our defense and hitting, last weekend was one of the better weekends we’ve had all year. We were just playing a very good team, and we didn’t come away with any wins.”
The Salukis will now turn their attention to the Creighton Bluejays, who will come to town for a three-game conference series beginning Friday. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. at Abe Martin Field.