Clutch hit eludes Baseball in 5-3 loss at Illinois State

    Starter Cameron Maldonado left with shoulder pain with one out in the fourth inning.

    Starter Cameron Maldonado left with shoulder pain with one out in the fourth inning.
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    May 5, 2012

    Box Score

    By Scott Gierman 

    NORMAL, Ill. – SIU surrendered a pair of early leads and lost to Illinois State 5-3 Saturday afternoon at Duffy Bass Field. With the loss, the Salukis (25-22, 9-8 MVC) have dropped the first two games to start the three-game series with the Redbirds (25-16, 7-8 MVC). Southern is now two and a half games out of first place with four conference games remaining.

    The Redbirds took the lead with a three-run rally in the bottom of the fifth. With runners at first and third and one out, Ty Wiesemeyer hit a ground ball for a potential inning-ending double play. However, Donny Duschinsky’s throw to second base sailed wide and allowed two runs to score to give Illinois State a 4-3 lead.  Wiesemeyer reached third base on the play and scored on Zac Johnson’s sacrifice fly.

    “We need to clean things up on defense,” Henderson said. “I know you can’t assume a double play, but that’s an easy double play, which means all five of their runs were a direct result of two mistakes we made on defense.”

    SIU committed two costly errors, which led to four unearned runs.

    “Our effort was much better today, but we didn’t play well,” SIU Coach Ken Henderson said. “We made too many mistakes.”

    Starter Dylan Craig took home the win for Illinois State. He allowed three runs off eight hits in five innings of work. He improved his record to 7-2 on the season.

    Cameron Maldonado started the game on the mound for SIU and scattered four hits in three scoreless innings to start the game. However, he left with shoulder discomfort with one out and a full count on the second batter of the fourth inning. No decision has been made on his status for his next start. He will be evaluated when the Salukis return to Carbondale.



    Maldonado left with the Salukis up 1-0, a lead the bullpen could not maintain. Illinois State took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth with Eric Aguilera’s two-run home run. Aguilera was the second batter Matt Murphy faced after replacing Maldonado. Neither of the runs in the fourth inning were earned after Serritella dropped a ball at first base on what would’ve been a ground out for the second out of the inning.

    “We didn’t pitch well enough to win,” Henderson said. “Cam had the lead after three and a third, and our bullpen didn’t execute quality pitches.”

    Murphy took the loss for the Salukis in his unexpected early relief appearance. He allowed four runs off four hits in an inning and two-thirds of relief. However, as a result of the two errors, only one of the runs against him was earned.

    “Murphy has been good for us,” Henderson said, “but he had too many pitches in the zone today and too many pitches in the middle part of the plate. That’s a tough situation to come into. You have to come in and throw up zeros, and he just didn’t have a good day.”

    A day after being held to a season-low four hits in the first game of the series, Henderson shook up the lineup. The Saluki hitters responded with 10 hits on Saturday. However, they had difficulty stringing hits together and stranded nine runners in the game. Six of those runners were left in scoring position.

    “We couldn’t come up with a key hit in crucial situations,” Henderson said. “We had opportunities to score, but just couldn’t do it. We just didn’t get it done today.”

    Tyler Dray kept Southern within striking distance. He relieved Murphy to start the sixth inning and tossed two and two-thirds scoreless innings. Dray allowed just two hits, both in the eighth inning. Aaron Snyder replaced him with two outs in the eighth inning. After issuing a walk, he got the final out to leave the bases loaded.

    “That was the best Dray’s thrown in a while,” Henderson said. “He had good command. I was proud of him.”

    Chris Serritella put SIU on top 3-2 with an impressive two-run homer in the top of the fifth inning. It was his conference leading 11th home run of the season. He drove in all three of SIU’s runs, including a third inning double to score John Menken from first base.

    SIU will try to salvage the final game of the series against the Redbirds on Sunday. Sam Coonrod will make the start for the Salukis. The first pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.