April 24, 2011
By Jason Clay
OMAHA, Neb. - Southern Illinois' starting pitching carried the Salukis to their first series victory at Creighton since 2003, as SIU pulled out a 2-1 win over the Jays on Sunday at TD Ameritrade Park.
With Sunday's rubber game victory that gave SIU the series victory two games to one, Southern Illinois is now tied atop the Missouri Valley Conference standings with a 6-3 league record. The Salukis now stand 15-24 overall and are tied with Creighton (27-10, 6-3) and Missouri State for first place.
"It's a big win for us, another league win, and that the main thing for me," interim head coach Ken Henderson said after leading his team to be the first to win a series at TD Ameritrade Park, the new $131 million home of College World Series.
Sophomore Brad Drust led the Salukis in Sunday's victory, as he struck out a career-high seven batters to improve to 2-2 on the season and 2-0 in Valley play. All three of Southern's starting pitchers set career-highs in strikeouts over the weekend.
Drust lasted seven innings Sunday and had great control all day. He threw 89 pitches - 62 for strikes - and didn't walk a single batter. He gave up six hits to the Bluejays.
"Coming into this game I was thinking that I was going to have to throw strikes and that's what I did to give my team a chance to win," Drust said. "I knew in those tough situations that my team would make plays for me, and they did."
Freshman Todd Eaton threw two hitless innings to secure the win and record the first save of his career.
The Salukis pulled off the win despite tallying only four hits in the game - their second lowest output this year. However, Creighton was held to six hits in the game and the Jays stranded eight on base.
Nick Johnson put the Salukis on the scoreboard first in the fourth inning by tripling down the right-field line and into the corner. The first-ever triple in TD Ameritrade Park scored Jordan Sivertsen from first and then Blake Pinnon plated Johnson on a sacrifice fly to give SIU the 2-0 lead.
Alex Staelely and the Jays finally got to Drust in the sixth, as he doubled just inside the third base bag to score Chance Ross with two outs.
Two Saluki errors in the seventh put runners on first and third with one out. Ross tried a suicide squeeze, but his bunt went right back to Drust who threw home to get Mike Gerber out at the plate.
Drust then got some help on a nice catch from Nick Johnson down the line to end the inning without giving up a run.
Eaton then entered in the eighth and struck out three batters, including the last two in the ninth, to secure the Saluki victory.