April 24, 2012
By Scott Gierman
CARBONDALE, Ill. - SIU withstood a late surge to take a 9-5 win over Southeast Missouri State Tuesday afternoon at Abe Martin Field. The Salukis (23-18) have now won five in a row, matching their longest winning streak of the year.
Southern Illinois built a 9-0 lead after six innings with a trilogy of three-run innings. After bringing in six reserves in the bottom of the seventh and the top of the eighth, SIU survived a five-run eighth inning from the Redhawks (14-28) that made the final score look closer than the game was for most of the day.
"You look at the final score, and it's not an indication of how well we played," SIU Coach Ken Henderson said. "For seven innings, we had no errors, we pitched extremely well, and we executed on offense. That's what I'm focusing on."
Nathan Dorris (6-3) scattered six hits in seven scoreless innings for the Salukis and earned his team-leading sixth win of the year. He had great command of his curveball, which helped him match a career high with nine strikeouts. He also had nine punchouts against SEMO two weeks ago. In his last three starts, the junior now has 23 strikeouts and two walks in 21 innings of work.
"(The breaking ball) has always been my bread and butter," Dorris said. "I was able to get it over today and really get ahead in the count with it, and that was something that really helped. I was also able to command it out of the zone, which helped me to get a lot of strikeouts."
The lefty has now won his last two starts and appears to have regained his form that helped him start the year 4-0.
"He was outstanding," Henderson said. "That's the way he was the first couple weeks. He had great command all day with his fastball. His breaking ball was the best it's been for him in a while. It was a true out pitch for him today. He was in control all day and did a great job for seven innings."
SIU pounced on scoring opportunities early thanks to Redhawks mistakes. With runners at first and second and a run in already in the first inning, Brock Harding grounded the ball to the shortstop for a potential inning ending double play. However, Chris Serritella scored from second base to give SIU a 2-0 lead as Kenton Parmley's throw sailed into right field. Luke Mottashed followed with a two-out single to cap the three-run rally.
"I really liked our approach early on," Henderson said. "We hit balls where they were pitched and didn't try to do too much. We found a way to get some runs in, and we executed on offense as well. We moved some runners. We did our job in sac fly situations.
The Salukis plated three more in the third inning to extend the lead to 6-0 when Harding and Rennie Troggio delivered a pair of sacrifice flies. Southern was aided by two walks, two wild pitches and two hit batsmen in the inning.
Redhawks starter Will Spitzfaden left the game after retiring just one of the first five batters in the third. Four of his six runs were earned in two and a third innings of work. The lefty evened his record at 1-1 with the loss.
After SIU took out seven starters including Dorris, the Redhawks sent 10 men to the plate in the top of the eighth and scored five runs. However, only one of those runs were earned when the Salukis committed back-to-back errors on potential ground ball outs.
SEMO threatened again in the ninth when Todd Eaton loaded the bases with three singles, but ended the game with a strikeout.
Chris Serritella had a hand in all three SIU rallies. He matched a school record with three doubles and scored three runs. It was the second time this season a Saluki hitter had three doubles in a game. Brian Bajer did it earlier this month.
The Salukis will hit the road this weekend for a crucial three-game conference series against the Missouri State Bears. The series is scheduled to begin Friday at 6:30 p.m. Southern is tied for second place in the Missouri Valley Conference, a half game behind Missouri State.