May 4, 2010
By Jason Clay
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Behind a strong day on the mound, the Southern Illinois baseball team defeated Illinois, 3-2, on Tuesday at Illinois Field to extend its winning streak to six games.
This is the second time this season that SIU has won six-straight and the victory pushes its record above .500 at 23-22. The Fighting Illini fall to 20-21 overall as the Salukis avenge their one-run loss to Illinois back on April 14.
"The pitching was outstanding today," head coach Dan Callahan said. "We had our chance to pad our lead a little bit and I knew it was going to be a close game, but I didn't anticipate that close of a game. All of our pitchers threw lights out and that was a true team effort."
Saluki starter Jimmy Cornell lasted six innings in his eighth start of the year. He only gave up five hits and one earned run with four strikeouts, as he left the game with a 3-2 lead.
SIU's bullpen held that lead for Cornell as he picked up his second victory on the year (2-3). Senior Ryan Bradley threw a hitless seventh inning and freshman Lee Weld struck out three batters in the final two innings to record his second career save.
SIU only had eight hits on the day, but its one run in the third and two in the fourth were enough to get the win. Junior second baseman Blake Pinnon was 2-for-4 with an RBI double in the third inning.
Catcher Brian Bajer and first baseman Chris Serritella were also 2-for-4 at the plate Tuesday. Serritella's day extends his hitting streak to 16 games, which is the longest by a Saluki since Adam Hills' 18-game streak in 2007.
Pinnon gave Southern a 1-0 lead in the top of the third with his two-out double to right-center that scored Michael Stalter from first base.
Illinois tied the game up in the bottom of the third with McMurray's RBI single.
An error and a wild pitch cost the Salukis a run in the bottom of the fifth. After a throwing error in the Saluki infield, Illinois had runners on second and third with two outs. Cornell's fourth wild pitch of the season allowed Christian Cummins to come home for the unearned run.
Bradley entered on the hill for Cornell in the seventh. He hit Josh Parr, the first batter he faced, but Bajer atoned for that as he threw Parr out while he was trying to steal second. Bradley then got a pop out and a ground out to keep SIU's lead at one after seven.
Weld came into pitch the eighth and got the Fighting Illini to go three-up and three-down. He stayed on in the ninth and gave up a single to pinch hitter Thomas Shelton to start the inning.
After a sacrifice bunt moved Shelton over to second, Weld picked him off on the second base bag to get the second out. It was his fourth pickoff this season.
The freshman with excellent composure then struck out pinch-hitter Bill Charvat with a ball in the dirt, but the throw down to first was dropped and Charvat was award first on the error.
Once again Weld was not fazed and he struck out Parr to end the game.