Salukis celebrate Senior Day, complete sweep with 5-1 win over MVSU

    Senior Brad Drust earned his first win of the year in his final start at Itchy Jones Stadium.

    Senior Brad Drust earned his first win of the year in his final start at Itchy Jones Stadium.
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    May 11, 2014

    By Scott Gierman 

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    CARBONDALE, Ill. – Southern Illinois completed a three-game sweep of Mississippi Valley State with a weather-shortened 5-1 win on Sunday afternoon at Itchy Jones Stadium. The Salukis (25-26) and Delta Devils (4-38) waited through an eight-minute rain delay in the fifth inning before the game was called in the bottom of the sixth, 32 minutes into a lightning delay.

    It was SIU’s first three-game sweep of the season and its first at home since taking three in a row from Eastern Kentucky the last weekend of March 2013.

    “We needed to get some momentum and confidence going into the last weekend of the year, and we took care of business,” SIU Coach Ken Henderson said. “We did what we needed to do.”

    Southern Illinois honored its 13 seniors prior to the game with Senior Day and led the entire game.  In a fitting start, three Saluki seniors scored in the first inning to give SIU an early 3-0 lead.

    Jake Welch started the rally with a one-out double to right field. After Ryan Casillas drew a walk, Cody Daily drove in both of them with a triple that bounced just inside the third base line and rolled to the left field wall.

    It was the first career triple for Daily, a senior playing in his final game at Itchy Jones Stadium.

    “(MVSU starter Shawn Wiseman) started me off 3-0,” Daily said, “and Coach (Henderson) gave me the green light. He threw me something I could hit, and luckily it snuck inside the line. I thought it was foul at first.”

    Daily scored on Jake Hand’s RBI groundout to cap the rally.

    “We’ve been struggling to put runs up,” Daily said. “We’ve been hitting balls hard all year but had some bad luck. It’s definitely a confidence booster, us starting off with three runs.”

    Pitching with a lead, starter Brad Drust did not allow a hit in three scoreless innings of work and picked up his first win of the season. He led off each inning with a walk or hit batsman but got out of the second and third innings with a pair of double plays.

    “Obviously it was good to get Brad a lead,” Henderson said. “He threw up a zero, we got him three runs and then he threw a couple more zeroes up.”

    The Salukis stretched the lead to 4-0 in the bottom of the third when Conner Kopach led off with a double and scored on Casillas’ one-out single through the left side of the infield.

    Aaron Snyder relieved Drust and threw two scoreless innings to keep the no-hitter in tact through the fifth. Snyder issued two walks in the fourth inning, his first inning in 11 days, but got out of it with a 4-6-3 double play. He then settled in and struck out two in a scoreless fifth.

    “He executed pitches when he had to,” Henderson said. “He got the big double play ball. I’m proud of (all of the pitchers). They did what they needed to do and took care of business.”

    MVSU got on the board in the top of the sixth to cut the lead to 4-1 when Arrington Smith hit a two-out single up the middle off Derek Fogel, who was in his first inning of work. Brady McBride then hit a hard grounder up the middle. It scooted off the glove of a diving Saluki second baseman Connor Kopach and rolled far enough for Smith to score and McBride to reach second base.

    Southern added its final run in the bottom of the fifth inning. In his first inning on the mound, MVSU’s Tyji Hawkins walked the bases loaded. Cody Daily then singled to left field to move everyone up a base and drive in his third run of the game. Daily drove in eight runs in the three-game series, including a pair of two-run homers on Friday night.

    “He’s as aggressive as he’s been all year and put some good swings on it,” Henderson said. 

    SIU will wrap up the regular season with a three-game conference series on the road against Dallas Baptist beginning Thursday at 6:30 p.m.