April 30, 2004
By Jeff Honza
NORMAL, Ill. - Left-hander Kyle Bloom registered a season-high 10 strikeouts, while his team's offense scored four runs on five hits in the seventh to lift Illinois State (15-23, 6-11) to a 6-3 win over Southern Illinois (15-24-1, 9-11-1) earlier tonight at Redbird Field.
The game, which was initially scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m., was delayed an hour due to rain.
With the way Eric Haberer and Bloom were battling on the mound, baserunners were few and far between early on. Between the two, only four runners reached the basepaths in the first four innings of the game.
SIU's Kevin Koski reached on an error by Redbird shortstop Joe Peterson in the top of the first. Matt Bolt then doubled with one out in the second, before Koski (third) and Nathan Boldt (fourth) hit two-out doubles. The furthest any of those runners would get was third base, where ISU's Bolt was stranded after Haberer got Greg Blaesing to ground out to second and struck out Chris Shepherd.
Bloom and Haberer were nothing short of impressive, as the two did a nice job of consistently getting guys out in the early frames. Bloom retired 12 of 15 Salukis, including seven straight between the first and third innings. He also had five strikeouts in that span.
Meanwhile, Haberer recorded outs against 12 of the first 13 batters he faced, and struck out four in his first four frames.
SIU, however, snapped the scoreless duel in the top of the fifth. Nick Baughman led things off with a routine pop-up to second, but three Redbird infielders mis-communicated on the play and the ball landed safely in front of second baseman Shepherd. Shortly after the error, Cory Newman hit a bunt single to advance Baughman to second, before Brendan Lutz hit into a fielder's choice.
With runners on first and second, Koski hit a high chopper to the mound and beat out Bloom's throw at first to load the bases. A P.J. Finigan sacrifice fly then scored Newman and a two-out single by Nathan Emrick knocked in Lutz to give the Dawgs a 2-0 lead.
ISU loaded the bases, but only came away with one run to narrow the margin to 2-1 in the sixth. Nick Crist led things off with a double, Peterson walked and Nate Whitney was hit by a pitch with Haberer ahead, 0-2, in the count. A Luke Baughman infield single plated Crist, before Jeremy Pickrel hit a double play ball to help Haberer out of the jam.
The 'Birds kept their momentum going in the seventh, where they blew the game open with four runs on five hits. Crist, Peterson and Whitney hit consecutive RBI-singles, while Jay Molina delivered a run-scoring double to give ISU a 5-2 advantage.
ISU scored one more run in the eighth with the help of an error by Finigan, a passed ball by Lutz and a wild pitch by Haberer to cap its 6-3 win.
Bloom did not allow a walk to go along with his 10 strikeouts over 8.2 innings, as he moved to 4-5 on the year. He also gave up nine hits and two runs, both of which were unearned.
Bloom was relieved by Kyle Zaleski in the ninth when SIU threatened with two outs and the bases loaded. Zaleski would give up an infield single to Emrick before picking up his fifth save of the season.
Haberer fell to 4-2 after giving up nine hits and six runs (three unearned). He also struck out five and walked one.
Koski and Emrick each went 3-for-5 to lead SIU at the plate. Koski also had a double, while Emrick had two RBI. Boldt followed by going 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles.
ISU was led by Bolt and Crisp, who each had two hits, including a double. Additionally, SIU out-hit the 'Birds, 10-9, and each team committed two errors.