May. 1, 2005
By Jeff Honza
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Kevin Koski went 4-for-6 with a double, three runs scored and three RBI, while P.J. Finigan had a two-run homer and pitched a complete game gem to lead Southern Illinois (28-16, 11-7) to a 14-3 win over Indiana State (25-19, 8-7) earlier today at Sycamore Field.
SIU, who beat ISU in a series for the fourth time under head coach Dan Callahan, piled up 34 runs in 25 innings to collect its third-straight Missouri Valley Conference series win. Those 34 runs also marked the most SIU has scored in a series this season.
"I am very pleased with the way we swung the bats this weekend," said Callahan. "It's too bad we didn't do a little bit of a better job on the mound and on defense in game two, because we certainly swung it well enough to win three games."
When you're hot at the plate, things just tend to go your way. For Koski, it sure didn't take long for his hitting streak to reach 20 games, as a bizarre play in the third inning led to a six-run rout for the Dawgs.
Koski reached on a one-out bloop single when ISU shortstop Jake Eigsti collided with third base umpire Don Gonzalez. Koski's single was the second of six consecutive SIU hits, which ended on Finigan's two-run homer.
"I'm not only pleased that Kevin continued his hitting streak, but I was also glad to see him mix in key hits in some important at-bats," stated Callahan.
ISU battled back to load the bases with one out in the third, but Finigan struck out Marcus Artner and Ryan Bond to halt what ended up being the Sycamores' only opportunity to get back in the game.
"I was getting into good counts where I could get strikeouts, and my changeup seemed to be on today," said Finigan.
Callahan says this was the turning point in the game.
"Our inability to make a couple plays put P.J. in a bind, but he made some great pitches in some key spots. As soon as he struck out Artner and Bond, I felt the momentum was back in our favor," said Callahan.
Following his pair of clutch strikeouts in the third, Finigan retired 10 of the next 11 Sycamore hitters, including eight in a row from the end of the fourth inning to the beginning of the seventh. He also no-hit ISU in the fourth, fifth and sixth frames.
Already ahead, 6-1, SIU's offense gave Finigan even a bigger lead to work with when it plated a total of eight two-out runs in the final three innings.
In the fifth, Tyler Lairson was hit by a pitch, went to second on a fielder's choice bunt by Ryan Hypke and scored on a single by Koski. Hypke and Koski scored with the help of three-straight, two-out bases loaded walks by ISU reliever Clay Kovac.
Aided by three consecutive two-out hits, including back-to-back RBI-triples by Nathan Emrick and Cademartori, SIU upped its lead to 12-1 in the sixth.
With two outs and the bases loaded, Koski doubled home Erik Alvarez and Lairson to give SIU a 14-1 advantage in the seventh, before Sycamore pinch-hitter Ryan Witges' home run and left fielder Rance Fosdick's run-scoring single made it 14-3 in ISU's final at-bat.
Finigan (6-2) scattered seven hits, walked one and struck out five in his third complete game of the season. Finigan now has 84 strikeouts on the year, which are the most in a season by a Saluki pitcher since Jake Alley's 81 in 2002.
Offensively, he extended his hitting streak to 12 games after going 2-for-3 with a run scored, his fourth home run of the season, a pair of walks and three RBI.
With the breakout year Finigan is having both on the mound and at the plate, it makes you wonder what the secret is to his success.
"I'm just going out and enjoying the game, and it's paying off," said Finigan.
Finigan was one of five multiple-hit performers for SIU on the day. Koski, who tied a career-high four hits, led all Salukis, while Cademartori (2-for-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 RBI, 1 BB), Emrick (2-for-4, 2 R, 1 3B, 2 RBI, 1 BB) and Hypke (2-for-3, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB) joined Finigan with two hits. Hunter Harrigan also knocked in three runs for the Dawgs.
Koski, Emrick, Cademartori, Harrigan and Finigan teamed up for all but two of SIU's 13 hits, as the Salukis outhit ISU (the MVC's top hitting club), 42-26, on the weekend.
Andrew Galle (2-6), one of six pitchers who took the mound for ISU, was credited with the loss. Galle scattered six hits, gave up four runs, issued a walk and struck out one. His walk was one of eight bases on balls by Sycamore pitching.
SIU returns home to host Illinois Tuesday at 3 p.m.