April 27, 2007
By Jeff Honza
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Adam Hills and Chris Crank each homered to power Southern Illinois University (26-15, 6-7) to a 5-3 series-opening win over Missouri State (19-22, 4-9) earlier today at Abe Martin Field.
The Dawgs handed MSU its 10th-straight loss, as the Bears own the longest losing streak of any Missouri Valley Conference team this year.
SIU fell behind, 2-0, in the top of the second, but pulled to within a run when Crank sent preseason All-American left-hander Ross Detwiler's fourth delivery over the left field wall with two away in the bottom half of the inning.
After MSU plated another run in the third, SIU answered with three runs to take its first lead at 4-3.
With a runner on and one out in the bottom of the third, Hills pulled ahead of Detwiler in the count (3-1) before launching his second home run of the season to right center.
"Adam's home run really sent a charge into our dugout," said Saluki head coach Dan Callahan. "It was a big turning point in the game."
SIU never looked back after that and went on to score one last run on Hills' RBI-single in the fourth.
The Bears, after stranding two runners with one out in the third, had one final chance to get to Saluki starting left-hander Shawn Joy in the sixth.
MSU had runners on first and second with one out, but Joy forced Josh Mazzola to hit into an inning-ending double play.
"I thought Shawn did a great job after he settled down," said Callahan. "He had good command and kept us in the game."
Joy added, "I felt a lot better today than my previous two starts. I have to tip my hat to our offense and defense which came up big."
Freshman Bryant George pitched a perfect ninth inning en route to his team-high seventh save. George is tied for sixth in single-season saves in his first year at SIU.
Detwiler fell to 4-4 on the year. He gave up nine hits and five runs, and struck out two in 3.2 innings. The Salukis rattled Detwiler for 18 hits and 14 runs in 10.1 innings the last two times they faced him.
Once Detwiler left the game in the fourth, MSU reliever Pat Doyle retired all 13 hitters he faced in a dominating 4.1 innings of shutout baseball.
SIU outhit MSU, 9-8, on the day with Hills going 2-for-4 with his first career MVC home run and three RBI. Eight of nine Salukis in the starting lineup got a hit.
"I was looking for a pitch to hit and Detwiler left one over the middle," said Hills when asked about his home run. "I was fortunate it went out."
Defensively, SIU went without an error for the second-straight game and seventh time in 2007. The Salukis played error free baseball in back-to-back games for the first time this season.
The Salukis and Bears resume play tomorrow at 2 p.m., CST. Sophomore right-hander Cody Adams (9-2) will start on the mound.