Todd Eaton held Illinois State to four hits in 10.0 innings of work.
April 26, 2014
NORMAL, Ill. – For the second day in a row, Southern Illinois suffered an extra-inning, walkoff loss to Illinois State. The Redbirds (27-12, 8-5 MVC) handed SIU (21-21, 3-10 MVC) a 2-1 loss in the 15th inning Saturday afternoon at Duffy Bass Field.
Also for the second day in a row, the winning run came home with the bases loaded and one out. Meanwhile, the Saluki offense managed only four hits in the final nine innings of the game.
“It’s the exact same story,” SIU Coach Ken Henderson said. “We’re struggling to score runs. The pitching was outstanding again. We just couldn’t find a way to score. We had several opportunities. We just couldn’t get a hit.”
Dennis Colon drove in the game-winning run with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 15th inning. It was hit deep enough that SIU center fielder Parker Osborne had no chance to throw out Jack Czeszewski before he crossed home plate.
Kyle Pruemer took the loss for the Salukis. The freshman reliever threw a perfect 14th inning then walked Czeszewski to start the 15th. Following a strikeout, Pruemer hit the next two batters to load the bases for Colon.
“Kyle did a great job until the 15th,” Henderson said. “You have to throw strikes in that situation. You can’t give them opportunities.”
The six extra innings overshadowed an extraordinary performance from Saluki starter Todd Eaton. Eaton kept ISU hitters off balance all afternoon. He allowed one run off four hits in 10 innings but did not factor in the decision. He was a model of efficiency, tossing six perfect innings.
Paul DeJong broke up Eaton’s perfect game with two outs in the bottom of the fourth when the wind helped blow his solo home run over the right field wall.
“At first I didn’t think it had a chance, but it kept going,” Eaton said. “That happens. At least it was leadoff bomb instead of with guys on base, so it limited the damage.”
After the home run, Eaton retired 11 of the next 12 batters. He ran into trouble in the eighth when he allowed three-straight one-out singles to load the bases. However, he induced a groundball to get the runner at home and a popout to end the inning.
SIU tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the fifth inning. Will Farmer led off the inning with a single to right field. Pinch hitter Tyler Rolland replaced Farmer at first base after a failed sacrifice bunt attempt. Connor Kopach then singled to put runners at the corners, and Osborne dropped a single a few feet in front of left fielder Daniel Dwyer to chase home Rolland from third base.
Illinois State’s Dylan Craig scattered eight hits and held SIU to a single run in his eight and two-thirds innings of work. He had six strikeouts and walked three.
Redbird Reliever David Suarez picked up the win. He threw nearly 100 pitches but did not allow a run in six and a third innings of work. The only reliever the Redbirds used recorded seven strikeouts and held the Salukis to four hits. All seven of his strikeouts were on Saluki whiffs.
“I’m disappointed in our strike zone discipline,” Henderson said. “We swung at way too many sliders out of the zone.”
Lee Weld was also terrific in three scoreless innings to keep the score knotted late into extra innings. He pitched the 11th, 12th and 13th innings for the Salukis and only allowed one hit.
Southern has now lost its last 10 games against the rival Redbirds. Each of the last five were decided by one or two runs. SIU will try to break its seven-game conference losing streak and avoid its third-straight sweep in Normal when the series concludes on Sunday at noon. Aaron Hauge will take the mound for SIU.