April 24, 2004
By Jeff Honza
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Sophomore Matt Brewer hit a first-pitch, three-run walk-off home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to lead Southern Illinois (14-22-1, 8-9-1) to a dramatic 9-6 come-from-behind win over Creighton (20-16, 9-4) earlier today at Abe Martin Field.
The win extended SIU's winning streak to a season-best four games, as the Salukis took a 2-0 series lead.
SIU and CU were initially scheduled to play a doubleheader at noon, but heavy rain forced the twin bill to become a single nine-inning contest, which started at 2 p.m., instead.
CU right-hander Jeff Daneff set the tone early on for the Bluejays by striking out five Salukis en route to retiring 12 of his first 14 batters. Daneff was seemingly untouchable early on, and as a result, registered four consecutive Ks between the first and second innings.
While Daneff was taking care of what seemed to be one SIU hitter after another, the Bluejay offense came alive in the top of the third.
After being limited to just three hits in Friday's game, CU matched that total when it scored a pair of runs on three hits in the third. Tony Roth led off with a single and stole second. With two outs following back-to-back strikeouts by Matt Daeges and Gabe Lapito, Roth went to third on a wild pitch. A Zach Daeges double would then score Roth and an ensuing single by Pete Wiedewitsch plated Z. Daeges to give the Jays a 2-0 lead.
Ahead 2-1, CU rattled Saluki starter Josh Joiner for four runs in the sixth. Wiedewitsch walked and went to second on a SAC-bunt by Dan Norquist. An ensuing Dave Schultz single knocked in Wiedewitsch. Shortly after Schultz's hit, Tony Daniel and Brad Dutton each singled. A sacrifice fly by Roth and a two-RBI double by M. Daeges then drove in the other three runs to give the Bluejays a 6-1 advantage.
Despite CU's sixth-inning surge, SIU answered with eight runs in the last three innings of the game to shock the Jays.
Although Daneff was virtually unstoppable early on, he crumbled in the bottom of the seventh.
With Baughman at first after reaching on a one-out single, pinch-hitter Tyler Schooley was hit by a pitch with two outs in the inning. Consecutive hits by Kevin Koski, P.J. Finigan and Nathan Emrick would then follow.
Koski's hit scored Grant Gerrard (pinch-ran for Baughman), while Finigan's huge double down the left field line plated both Koski and Erik Alvarez (pinch-ran for Schooley). Finigan touched home on Emrick's hit, and all of the sudden, SIU cut CU's lead to 6-5.
SIU rallied again in the eighth, where Brewer hit a one-out double to right center. Moments after Gerrard struck out, Cory Newman delivered a key two-out single to tie the game at 6-6.
Newman's hit was just the beginning of what turned out to be a fantastic finish.
Left-hander Tyler Norrick, who relieved Adam Snyder in the seventh, threw 18 pitches, but 13 of them were balls. As a result, Norrick issued a pair of walks which helped give CU runners at first and third with one out. Norrick, luckily, got out of the jam when Schultz hit into a 1-6-3 double play.
Norrick lasted just one inning before right-hander Andrew Weber took over in the eighth. Once Weber hit the mound, he retired five of seven Bluejay hitters to give the Dawgs momentum entering the ninth.
While SIU made adjustments on the hill, so did CU. Daneff was relieved by Adrian Rider in the seventh. Rider would then pitch one inning before he was replaced by Brandon Bird in the eighth.
After getting Koski to fly out and escape a two-baserunner jam in the eighth, Bird fell apart in the ninth.
Finigan came up big again, this time with a lead off single to center. On the next play, Finigan advanced to second courtesy of a sacrifice bunt by Emrick. Shortly after Greg Andrews struck out, things got even more interesting.
With two out and Nathan Boldt at the plate, Boldt was intentionally walked. Prior to the ninth, Boldt was hitless in his first four at-bats. Shortly after Boldt's free ticket, Brewer took Bird's first delivery deep over the left field wall to ice the 9-6 stunner.
Weber picked up his fourth relief win and improved to 4-1 on the year. He gave up one hit, issued one walk and posted one strikeout in two innings. Weber now ties for the team-lead in wins with ace left-hander Eric Haberer, as each have four this season.
Bird (1-2) suffered the loss for CU after allowing three hits and three runs in just one inning. He also registered one strikeout.
Finigan went a perfect 3-for-3 with a double, two runs scored and two RBI to lead SIU offensively. A native of Springfield, Ill., Finigan ties for first on the team with eight doubles this season. Also, in his first two games against CU, he hit a sizzling .571 (4-for-7). In addition, Finigan extended his hitting streak to six games and has hit safely in 16 of his last 18 outings. Not to mention, he raised his batting average from .175 to .244 during that stretch.
Brewer also had three hits, as he finished 3-for-5 with three runs scored and three RBI. Brewer, who hails from Springfield, Ill., as well, became the second Saluki this season to hit a first-pitch, walk-off home run. Baughman also did it against Evansville on Apr. 11. Brewer now ranks second on the team with four home runs and has homered in back-to-back games against the Bluejays.
Koski, Emrick, Baughman, Newman, Lutz and Alvarez rounded out the balanced 12-hit attack for SIU. Alvarez's hit marked his first since Mar. 28. Prior to today he was 0-for-22 at the plate in his last 11 games.
M. Daeges went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI to lead CU.
SIU and CU wrap up their series with a noon doubleheader tomorrow. The first game will be a seven-inning contest, followed by a nine-inning nightcap.