May 4, 2012
By Scott Gierman
NORMAL, Ill. - Illinois State scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to steal the first game of the series from SIU Friday evening at Duffy Bass Field. Cody Forsythe started for the Salukis (25-21, 9-7 MVC) and held the Redbirds (24-16, 6-8 MVC) to a ground ball single through the first seven innings of the game.
The game lasted under two hours, and the momentum shift was even quicker than that as Forsythe's near perfect start to the game quickly turned on a couple weakly hit ground balls.
Zac Johnson led off the eighth inning for ISU with an infield single. Eric Aguilera then hit a check swing grounder to the right side of the infield. Chris Serritella fielded the ball and looked for a play at second base then flipped to Forsythe at first base. Aguilera beat it out by a split second to put two runners on base. After Forsythe got Mike Hollenbeck to fly out, Kevin Tokarski singled up the middle to score Johnson and tie the game at 1-1. Two batters later Chad Hinshaw hit a two-run single to give Illinois State a 3-1 lead.
"I thought I threw pretty good pitches (in the eighth)," Forsythe said. "You have to give credit to their hitters. They hit the ball well, and they did what they had to do to win the game."
Jordan Sivertsen hit a solo home run in the top of the ninth, but the comeback fell short for the Salukis. With the long ball, Sivertsen is now tied with teammate Chris Serritella for the conference lead with 10 home runs on the year.
Forsythe pitched his third consecutive complete game and took a perfect game into the fifth inning before surrendering a two-out single. The junior retired 21 of the first 22 Redbirds hitters to start the game.
He once again was the tough luck loser without any support from his offense. The loss drops his record to 3-3 on the season.
"Cody deserved better," Henderson said. "He threw great. That was probably the best he's looked all year. He had great command of his breaking ball, and he deserved better."
Entering the eighth inning, Forsythe had lowered his conference ERA under 1.00 in his sixth Missouri Valley start of the year, yet he somehow has a 3-2 record in the Valley. The Saluki offense has given him a total of six runs in his last three starts and averaged more than six runs per game in games he does not start over the past three weeks.
"It's almost like when he's on the mound, we don't show up with a lot of energy offensively," Henderson said. "Our hitters think he's going to throw a shutout or give up one run every time, and that's not the case."
Redbirds reliever Justin Hauer threw a scoreless eighth inning and picked up the win, his third of the season. Kenny Long pitched the ninth to earn his eighth save of the season.
SIU scored its only run of the game with some help from a Redbirds error in the fourth. Donny Duschinsky led off the inning with a walk and should've been erased on a double play ball. Instead he scored on Brock Harding's bases loaded sacrifice fly to center field. Southern could not come through with a hit that would lead to a big rally that inning, twice striking out with the bases loaded.
Southern's hitters produced a season-low four hits in the game. Just two of those hits came after the second inning. Sivertsen's home run was the only earned run the Dawgs scored in the game.
"Offensively, we didn't deserve to win this game," Henderson said. "Our position players did nothing to deserve to win this baseball game. We played with no energy. Our ABs were bad. Our approaches were bad."
Illinois State starter Chris Razo entered the game with a 5.75 ERA but held SIU's offense to three hits in seven innings of work. He struck out five and walked two batters.
Southern will try to get back on track on Saturday in the second game of the series. The first pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Duffy Bass Field.