May 13, 2007
By Jeff Honza
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Mark Kelly scored the game-winning run on a two-out wild pitch in the eighth inning to give Southern Illinois University (31-19, 11-10) a 3-2 win over Northern Iowa (21-26, 6-15) earlier today in a bizarre game at Abe Martin Field.
With the win, SIU clinched a berth to the 2007 Missouri Valley Conference Baseball Championship, which will be played May 23-26 at Hammons Field in Springfield, Mo.
"It was a crazy game, but I liked how we hung in there," said Saluki head coach Dan Callahan. "I'm glad we are in the tournament, but we still need to play well next weekend.
It was an interesting turn of events that sent SIU to its fifth consecutive series win over UNI at home.
With the score deadlocked at 2-2, Adam Hills drew a one-out walk and headed for third on Kelly's ensuing base hit in the eighth. Hills, however, missed second base and was called out on the play.
Scott Elmendorf followed with a double to left to keep the inning alive. Kelly then touched home for the winning run on a wild pitch Bryan Westphal.
SIU had to come from behind to win after Jordan Powell gave UNI two runs on no hits in the third.
The Salukis held a 1-0 lead when Powell plunked Jeremy Weih and walked Curt Bradley at the bottom of the Panther lineup to start the inning.
Weih advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored when Deric Manrique grounded out to short. Powell balked after that, and Bradley went to third before touching home on Eric Hoffman's grounder to second to give UNI a 2-1 edge.
Hills drew a leadoff walk and scored on a double by Kelly to tie the game in the sixth.
UNI had a golden opportunity to tie things up with runners on second and third and one out in the ninth.
George had a 1-1 count against Weih when his third offering scooted by Kelly. Once the ball got away, Embury broke for the plate. Kelly recovered and quickly threw to George who cut down the potential tying run. Weih later flied out for the final out of the game.
George was credited with his team-high 10th save. He moved into a third-place tie with Dewey Robinson (1977) on SIU's all-time single-season saves list.
Powell allowed only one hit, but walked four and allowed two runs in six innings before giving way to submarine reliever Ian Reinhart in the seventh.
Reinhart (1-1) proceeded to scatter just two hits in two scoreless innings before George came on in the ninth. For Reinhart, it was the first win of his career.
"It was nice to get my first career win," said Reinhart. "We needed to get back on track after yesterday's loss."
Westphal suffered the loss, falling to 3-2 on the year.
Offensively, SIU was led by Kelly who went 2-for-3 with a double, run scored and one RBI. The Salukis outhit the Panthers, 8-4, on the day.
SIU hosts Eastern Illinois in its final home game of the regular-season Tuesday at 3 p.m., CST. After that, the Salukis round out conference play at Indiana State (May 17-19).