Baseball knocks off Illinois 7-3 with five late runs

    Brian Bajer hit a pinch hit double in the eighth inning and scored the tying run for SIU.

    Brian Bajer hit a pinch hit double in the eighth inning and scored the tying run for SIU.
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    May 1, 2012

    Box Score

    By Scott Gierman

    CHAMPAIGN,  Ill. – SIU rallied late to defeat Illinois 7-3 Tuesday night at Illinois Field. Southern (25-20) rallied for two eighth inning runs to overcame a 3-2 deficit and put away the Illini (25-19) with a pair of home runs in the ninth.

    With Southern down 3-2 in the top of the eighth, Brian Bajer hit a pinch hit double to right-center field off of Luke Joyce, who was in his first inning of relief. John Menken followed with a double to left to tie the game at 3-3. Menken advanced to third on Rennie Troggio’s single and scored the go-ahead run when Jake Welch beat out a potential double play.

    After Matt Murphy tossed a scoreless bottom of the eighth inning, Donny Duschinsky and Austin Montgomery hit back-to-back home runs to lead off the ninth and extend the lead to 6-3. Jordan Sivertsen walked, stole second and scored on Dustin Huff’s RBI single to cap the scoring.

    SIU had been held to two runs off four hits in the first seven innings before plating five runs off six hits in those final inning innings.

    “We grinded it out,” SIU Coach Ken Henderson said.” We didn’t start off really strong, but we found a way to hang in there. Offensively we grinded out some runs until we got going late. It’s a good win.”



    Murphy earned the win for SIU. He threw two and two-thirds scoreless innings for the Salukis and improved to 2-3 on the season. Todd Eaton closed out the game with a perfect ninth inning. He struck out two batters.

    “Our bullpen was very good tonight,” Henderson said. “Matt Murphy did a good job with his two and two-thirds scoreless, and Todd Eaton was outstanding. That’s as good as he’s thrown in a long time. He was dominating.”

    Joyce recorded just one out in the eighth inning and took the loss for Illinois.

    SIU starter Nathan Dorris was the story of the game early. In his first five innings, he held the Illini to just two singles and struck out 10 batters. He surrendered a three-run home run to Jordan Parr with one out in the sixth inning. That gave Illinois a 3-2 lead. Dorris departed in line for the loss after walking the next hitter. He finished the night with a career-high 11 strikeouts, matching the most punchouts by a Saluki pitcher in 2012.

    “His breaking ball was very good tonight,” Henderson said. “He had great command with it and he did a good job keeping us in the game until our offense could get going.”

    Meanwhile, Illinois held the SIU offense in check early with a revolving door of pitchers. The Illini used five pitchers in the first seven innings. Josh Ferry pitched a scoreless sixth and seventh inning and was in line for the win before the Salukis’ late rally. Illinois used eight pitchers in the game.

    SIU’s Jake Welch broke a scoreless tie in the top of the fifth inning with his second home run of the season. The Salukis made it 2-0 in the sixth when Troggio grounded into a bases loaded fielder’s choice.

    SIU will be on the road again this weekend with a three-game conference series against Illinois State. First pitch is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Friday.