April 21, 2012
By Scott Gierman
CARBONDALE, Ill. – SIU swept a doubleheader against Creighton Saturday afternoon at Abe Martin Field. Cody Forsythe threw a complete game, five-hit shutout in Game 1 to give Southern a 4-0 win. In the second game, SIU overcame a 5-2 deficit in the fifth inning and trailed 6-5 after seven innings before Jake Welch lifted SIU a 7-6 victory with his walk-off double in the ninth.
With the two victories, SIU (21-18, 7-4 MVC) has won three in a row and moved to within a game and a half of first place in the conference standings.
“It was a good day for us,” SIU Coach Ken Henderson said. “We just persevered. We stayed at it. It certainly wasn’t perfect. We didn’t play great, but we battled and we didn’t give up. We got some key hits. We did some good things, but mainly we just battled and persevered, and we stayed at it.”
Forsythe became the first Saluki pitcher to toss a complete game shutout since Shawn Joy did it in 2008. Creighton (15-19, 2-9 MVC) had only four runners reach second base in the first game of the day and did not have a runner reach third base the entire game.
“Cody was outstanding,” Henderson said. “He was in command the entire game, and he was the story of the game.”
Forsythe officially threw 128 pitches, his highest total of the year. He struck out five batters and lowered his ERA in four conference starts to 1.16. Forsythe is now 3-0 in conference games in 2012.
“Conference is definitely showtime,” Forsythe said. “These are important games, and we just want to win as many games as we can. I just battled to keep us in the game as long as I could. They got some guys on second base, and I had to work really hard to keep them from scoring. It just came down to battling there at the end.”
Jordan Sivertsen drew a leadoff walk. Brock Harding bunted him to second and reached base on Blach’s throwing error. Brian Bajer then sacrificed Sivertsen and Harding into scoring position. Creighton gave SIU another extra out in the inning when Nick Johnson struck out swinging but reached first base on a wild pitch to load the bases. Rennie Troggio delivered a base hit to give SIU a 1-0 lead. Harding then scored on a passed ball to make it 2-0.
“You have to give credit to their pitchers,” Henderson said. “We knew it wasn’t going to be a great offensive day. We knew we were going to have to find a way to scratch and find a way to score. When we got him those two runs, it was an awfully good feeling at that point because (Forsythe) was in control.”
Brian Bajer extended SIU’s lead to 3-0 with a solo blast to straight away center field in the bottom of the seventh.
Blach left in the top of the eighth inning after surrendering a one-out double to Chris Serritella. Reliever Andrew Urban allowed a two-out double to Jordan Sivertsen, which drove in Serritella to give SIU a four-run advantage.
In the second game, with the game tied at 6-6 in the bottom of the ninth and the two teams three outs away from the 19th inning of the day, Welch sent the crowd home happy. Kurt Spomer entered the game to start the inning for Creighton and did not record an out. He gave up a leadoff single to Rennie Troggio, who beat out a ground ball to third base. Troggio was in motion with a full count and scored from first base when Welch split the outfielders with a line drive to left-center field.
“It was a two-seam fastball,” Welch said of the final pitch of the game. “It was a little high, and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to pull whatever he threw at me. I was going to have to take it the other way. I saw it up in the zone, and I was fortunate to get it for a hit.”
Tyler Dray escaped the top of the ninth and took the win for SIU. He entered a tie game with one out and runners at the corners to face Creighton’s leading hitter, Nick Judkins. Dray threw a pitch in the dirt that rolled away from catcher Brian Bajer. However, Bajer quickly located the ball and threw it to Dray in time to tag Chance Ross at the plate. After walking Judkins, Dray induced a ground out to end the half inning and set the stage for SIU’s dramatic win.
Southern had tied the game at 6-6 in the bottom of the eighth when Brock Harding picked a perfect time for his first home run of the season. It was a solo shot over the right field wall.
“We were struggling throughout the game,” Welch said “We had some missed opportunities with guys on base, but Brock’s home run really gave us a boost in the eighth, and in the ninth we just found a way to win.”
The Salukis had only recorded three hits in the first six innings of the game, but two of those hits drove in a total of four runs.
Neither starter in Game 2 survived the fifth inning. In the top of the inning with SIU trailing 3-2, Saluki starter Cameron Maldonado surrendered a leadoff single to Ross. After Ross stole second base, Brennan Murphy reached on an infield single to third base. The throw to first base was wild and advanced Murphy to third as Ross scored on the play. After allowing Murphy to score on a wild pitch, Maldonado faced one more batter and left the game.
Four of the five runs against Maldonado were earned. He struck out a season high eight batters and walked two in the no-decision.
With a 5-2 lead in the bottom of the fifth, the Jays were seemingly in control of the game when Creighton starter Erik Mattingly retired the first two batters of the inning. However, he walked Welch and hit Donny Duschinsky to end his day.
Reliever Mark Winkelman walked Chris Serritella to load the bases for Austin Montgomery whose only hit of the day was a big one. He doubled over the head of center fielder Mike Gerber to clear the bases and knot the game at 5-5.
“Obviously we don’t win the game if he doesn’t step up and get us back in it,” Henderson said. “It was going to be tough for us to put four, five or six hits together against them because their pitching is that good. I thought we had to get a couple runs out of that, and to get three was huge.”
Once again Matt Murphy kept the Dawgs in the game with a strong performance in middle relief. He allowed one run off four hits in four innings out of the bullpen.
Southern was the first team on the board in the game. Harding hit an RBI triple and then scored on a passed ball to give SIU a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning.
Creighton took a 3-2 lead in the top of the third inning on Anthony Bemboom’s two-run line drive single to center field, which capped a three-run rally. Jordan Makavicka scored the first run of the inning on Ross’ double to left-center field.
Six of SIU’s 11 runs on the day came from runners who reached on an error, a walk or a hit batsman. Seeing that many mistakes from the Jays was somewhat surprising to Henderson.
“It’s a little out of character for them, but we took advantage of it,” Henderson said. “They walked a couple guys, and we had three guys on with two outs, but Monty still had to step up and hit the ball in the gap to take advantage of it. When we did get opportunities, we took advantage of it, and I’m proud of that.”
On Sunday, SIU will have a chance for its third weekend sweep and its first in conference play in 2012. Sam Coonrod will take the mound for the Salukis with the first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m. With a win, SIU will move into a second place tie with Indiana State in the conference standings.