Jake Welch scored the winning run on a wild pitch in the bottom of the 11th.
April 23, 2013
CARBONDALE, Ill. – Jake Welch scored the winning run on a wild pitch in the bottom of the 11th inning as Southern Illinois snuck past Southeast Missouri State, 3-2, on a windy Tuesday evening at Abe Martin Field. After SIU surrendered a one-run lead in the ninth, the Salukis’ third walk-off win of 2013 came just in the nick of time. With darkening skies, the possibility for a 12th inning may have been up for debate.
“We came back, and we found a way to win,” Henderson said. “So I give our guys credit for not quitting in that situation and finding a way to win the game.”
With the win, SIU (19-21) swept the season series from the Redhawks (20-22) and has now won eight consecutive nonconference games, the longest such streak for SIU since 2007.
Southern Illinois scored the winning run without recording a hit in the 11th inning on a day that the Salukis put up 12 hits but stranded a season-high 16 runners and went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
“It was a terrible day to hit with the wind blowing in that hard,” Henderson said. “The outfielders played so tight that there’s not a lot of space out there. I thought we did a good job of adjusting to that. We swung the bats well, just not with runners in scoring position.”
The Salukis loaded the bases in the final inning by drawing three walks, one of which was intentional. After Welch, who had already stolen two bases in the game, drew a leadoff walk, Southeast changed catchers. The Redhawks replaced Ryan Barnes with Tyler Boxwell. However, with Ryan Casillas at the plate and the bases loaded, reliever Tyler Thomas threw a pitch in the dirt, and the ball got past Boxwell to end the game.
Southern Illinois’ Aaron Snyder recorded the final two outs in the top of the 11th to earn his third win of the season. He entered the game with two on and one out and quickly got a strikeout and a weak groundout back to the mound to end the threat.
SIU was one strike away from a 2-1 win in the top of the ninth. Closer Todd Eaton was in to nail down his seventh save of the season and gave up a pair of ground ball singles. An additional throwing error and a stolen base put two runners in scoring position. With two outs, Eaton’s two-strike pitch to Nolan Fisher got past catcher Luke Mottashed for a passed ball to score Andy Lennington from third base and tie the game at 2-2. Fisher eventually drew an eight-pitch walk, but Eaton struck out the next batter to send the game to extra innings.
“We played eight innings of really good baseball,” Henderson said. “We made every play and made quality pitches. In the ninth, we just fell apart.”
Casillas gave the Salukis their first lead of the game with a two-run single in the bottom of the seventh. That gave SIU a 2-1 advantage after Southeast pushed a run across in the sixth.
It was the only run allowed by SIU starter Brad Drust. He allowed just three hits in five and a third innings of work. After walking the first two batters of the game, he retired 11 in a row, taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning. Drust got 13 of his 16 outs via ground balls and had only two balls hit to the outfield against him in the game.
“I think that’s the best he’s thrown all year,” Henderson said of Drust’s performance. “His velocity was a little better. His command was a little better. I was proud of the way he threw today.”
Matt Murphy replaced Drust with runners at second and third and one out in the sixth inning. He got two quick groundouts to keep the runners on base then stayed in to toss two more scoreless innings. Saluki relievers combined for five and two-thirds of an inning and allowed just one run, which was unearned.
“Our bullpen was outstanding,” Henderson said. “Murphy entered in a crucial situation and got out of it, and all of our pitching was good all day.”
SIU will continue the homestand on Friday when the Salukis open a three-game series against Missouri Valley Conference co-leader Wichita State at 3 p.m. at Abe Martin Field.