Nick Johnson had a pair of hits and drove in two runs in the loss.
May 11, 2012
By Scott Gierman
CARBONDALE, Ill. - SIU could not overcome three unearned first inning runs in a 6-3 loss to Indiana State Friday afternoon at Abe Martin Field. Although Southern twice cut the lead to a single run, the Sycamores (38-12, 11-5) led the entire game.
"I'm proud of our effort," SIU Coach Ken Henderson said. "We were down three, and we came back and battled. We played hard all day, but we just gave them too many gifts."
With the loss, the Salukis (25-24, 9-10) were mathematically eliminated from the race to win the Missouri Valley Conference regular season title. The game also momentarily pushed Indiana State into a tie with Missouri State for the conference lead before the Bears defeated Evansville later in the day.
With one out in the top of the first inning, Koby Kraemer hit a hard ground ball past Austin Montgomery at third base. SIU starter Cody Forsythe then surrendered a walk, two singles and a sacrifice fly to give the Syamores a 3-0 lead before Southern's first at-bat.
"We didn't make one play, and then Cody made good pitchers," first baseman Chris Serritella said, "but they found a way to put the ball in play."
Forsythe kept SIU in the game, allowing just one more run the rest of the way. He allowed four runs off seven hits in seven innings of work and was handed his third consecutive loss to drop his record to 3-4 on the season. He managed to lower his ERA back below 3.00 in the effort.
"Cody did a good job today," Henderson said. "He did not have his best stuff, but he battled through it to give us a chance. We were only down 4-2 when he left in the seventh. That's what good pitchers do. They find a way to keep you in the game when they don't have it, and I'm extremely proud of his efforts today."
Trailing 4-2 in the sixth inning, the Salukis got a leadoff double from Jordan Sivertsen. He scored on Nick Johnson's infield single to cut the deficit to 4-3. Johnson, representing the tying run, was caught stealing to end the inning. The Salukis again had the tying run aboard in the seventh inning when Rennie Troggio was hit by a pitch with two outs. Serritella, who had already reached base three times in the game, skied a 3-0 pitch to center field to end the inning.
Matt Murphy was the only reliever used by SIU in the game, he pitched a perfect eighth before ISU put the game away by extending the lead to 6-3 with a pair of ninth inning runs. Murphy was called for his first two balks of the season in the inning. He also surrendered a pair of singles and a walk.
Southpaw Reggie Hochstedler recorded the final three outs of the game for the Sycamores to nail down his third save of the season.
SIU got the on the board with a couple of runs in the second inning. Brock Harding started the rally with a double to right field. Brian Bajer followed with a single to put runners at first and third base. Nick Johnson drove Harding home with a single, and Bajer scored on Donny Duschinsky's sacrifice fly, which cut the lead to 3-2.
SIU left the tying run in scoring position in the second inning. In the third inning, the Salukis moved two runners to scoring position thanks to a walk and an error only to see the inning end on a groundout.
"We had our opportunities," Henderson said, "but haven't been able to get a key hit lately."
With six games remaining in the regular season, Southern Illinois has now lost four games in a row, one shy of their longest losing streak of the season.
"We need to start playing better baseball," Henderson said. "We need to get on a roll in the next two weeks before we get to the conference tournament."
The Salukis will look to get back on track on Saturday in the second game of the series. Nathan Dorris is scheduled to make the start for SIU with the first pitch scheduled for 2 p.m. at Abe Martin Field.