Jake Welch tripled and drove in three runs for SIU on Sunday, but the comeback fell short in the series finale.
April 29, 2012
By Scott Gierman
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - A seven-run fifth inning rally helped Missouri State hand SIU a 12-4 defeat Sunday afternoon at Hammons Field. Southern scored five runs in the final three innings but could not dig out of a 10-run hole.
By taking the final game of the series, the Bears (31-14 MVC) took two out of three from the Salukis (24-20, 9-6 MVC) and remain in first place. Southern finished the weekend a game and a half behind first place Missouri State in the MVC.
MSU batted around in the fifth as six of the first seven hitters of the inning recorded a hit and scored. Trey Massenberg led off the inning with a single through the right side of the infield and stole second base. Eric Cheray doubled him home to break a 1-1 tie and give MSU its first lead of the game. After Spiker Helms popped a bunt back to Sam Coonrod for an out, Coonrod surrendered an infield single up the middle, followed by a bloop single to right and a double to left-center field. The SIU starter departed the game with two men in scoring position and the Salukis trailing 4-1.
"He got a couple bad breaks in that inning and we had to get him out," SIU Coach Ken Henderson said of Coonrod. "They hit a couple balls hard that inning, but he had some bad breaks too. He competed hard, and other than that, he leaves a 4-1 game, and we're right there in it."
However, Southern's bullpen could not keep the Salukis in the game. SIU used three relievers who combined to allow six runs in three and two-thirds innings.
Aaron Snyder replaced Coonrod in the fifth and could not slow down the avalanche of runs. He surrendered a three-run homer to Keenan Maddox and then a solo home run to Dylan Becker to make it an 8-1 game before finally recording the final out of the inning.
Coonrod took the loss for Southern and fell to 2-3 on the season. The only damage against him in the first four innings was Cheray's third inning solo home run. It came one batter after Jordan Sivertsen took extra bases away from Trey Massenberg with a brilliant diving catch in left-center field. Coonrod regrouped to strike out the side in the fourth inning before running into trouble in the fifth.
Cody Schumacher earned the win for Missouri State and improved his 2012 record to 6-0. He held SIU to one unearned run in the first six innings of the game before the Dawgs tagged him for three runs in the seventh. Schumacher matched a season high with nine strikeouts in the game.
Henderson said he would've liked to have seen the Saluki hitters attack Schumacher's pitches earlier in the count.
"We were hitting behind too much," Henderson said. "We were hitting with two strikes too much. Early on that was the key. We weren't aggressive enough offensively early. Late in the game, we started swinging the bats, and we scored some runs."
SIU's best chance to get to Schumacher came in the top of the third inning when the Salukis took a 1-0 lead but ran themselves out of a big inning. Jake Welch hit a one-out single but was tagged out in a rundown when Donny Duschinsky couldn't make contact on a hit-and-run. Duschinsky reached on an error and scored on Chris Serritella's RBI single. However, Serritella took a hard turn at first base and was retired in the second rundown of the inning.
Trailing 11-1 and on the verge of ending the game after seven innings by the 10-run rule, SIU's offense finally sprang to life in the top of the seventh. Sivertsen and Brian Bajer both singled, and Sivertsen scored on Nick Johnson's sacrifice fly to cut the deficit to 11-2. After Rennie Troggio singled, Schumacher left with two on and two out. Jake Welch cut the lead to 11-4 and gave SIU a glimmer of hope with a two-run triple off reliever Grant Gordon.
Despite the loss, SIU remains within striking distance of the Missouri Valley Conference title with six MVC games left on the schedule.
"We expected to come in here and win the series, but we're still right there," Henderson said. "We're going to have to play better than we did today. In a big ballgame, it's a little disappointing, but I told our kids we're right there in it, and good things can still happen. We need to put this behind us and get ready to go in the next game."
SIU will face two intrastate rivals this week. On Tuesday the Salukis are scheduled to play Illinois in a non-conference game at 6:05 p.m. in Champaign. They will resume the MVC schedule with a three-game series at Illinois State beginning Friday, May 4 at 4:30 p.m.