May 13, 2012
By Scott Gierman
CARBONDALE, Ill. – SIU surrendered eight runs in the middle innings in a 10-4 loss to Indiana State Sunday afternoon at Abe Martin Field. The loss completed the sweep of the three-game series as Southern Illinois (25-26, 9-12 MVC) dropped its overall record under .500 for the first time since Feb. 23. Indiana State (40-12, 13-5) is now one win away from clinching the Missouri Valley Conference regular season title.
Indiana State totaled 14 hits in the game, and five of them went for extra bases.
“There’s a reason why (Indiana State is) 40-12,” SIU Coach Ken Henderson said. “I told our guys coming in, they have veteran guys who can swing it, and if you don’t make quality pitches, they’re going to hit them. “
SIU’s offense came out of the gate hot in the first inning when the first three Saluki hitters of the game singled, but a triple play turned the game around. With runners at the corners, Chris Serritella singled to right field to give Southern the early 1-0 advantage, its first lead of the series.
Then with Donny Duschinsky at third base and Serritella at first, Montgomery hit what appeared to be a double play ball to third base. However, after getting the first out at second base, second baseman Jordan Pearson threw home to cut down Duschinsky in a play at the plate. Montgomery reached first base safely but was momentarily confused and started jogging back to the dugout, at which point he was tagged out for the third out of the inning.
“Yes, he needed to know how many outs there were. That’s a mental mistake no one should make at this level.” SIU Coach Ken Henderson said. “But our four hitter can’t roll over a ground ball on a sac fly situation. That’s what I’m upset about, that we had that poor of an AB when we had a chance to take a 2-0 lead.”
“He was good, and I don't want to take anything away from him,” Henderson said. “But each of our first three hitters of the game got a hit and then we didn’t get three more hits the rest of the game until there was one out in the ninth. That shows we just didn’t have very good ABs.”
Sam Coonrod took the loss for SIU. He allowed four runs off six hits in five innings of work. All six hits against him and the only walk he issued came with two strikes in the at-bat.
“He needs to execute and put people away when he has a chance,” Henderson said. “He’s good enough to get 1-2, or 2-2 on everybody, but he didn’t execute and put them away.”
The freshman started out strong. After getting out of a jam with two men in scoring position in the first inning, Coonrod didn’t allow another hit until the fourth inning.
The middle innings were the difference in the game. In the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, Indiana State outhit SIU 11-2 and outscored the Salukis 8-1.
Indiana State took a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth on Koby Kraemer’s triple to the gap in right center field. He scored on Tyler Wampler’s sac fly to make it a 3-1 game. The Sycamores extended the lead to 4-1 with a run off two hits and a sacrifice fly against Coonrod in his fifth and final inning of work.
“I pounded the zone well,” Coonrod said, “but I was throwing the off-speed pitches up a little bit. It wasn’t low enough. It was right at the knees instead of at their ankles, and that’s where they got their hits and runs.”
Indiana State put the game away with five runs in the sixth inning. The inning started innocently enough. Lee Weld started the inning on the mound with a fly out, a bunt single and a fielder’s choice to leave a runner at first base with two outs. However, Weld, who has been used sparingly as he feels his way back from shoulder surgery, allowed three runs off back-to-back doubles and a single and was replaced with Tyler Dray. Dray allowed three more hits and two runs to score before getting the final out of the inning with ISU up 9-1.
“In fairness to Lee, we need to get him out there, but we don’t know what we’re going to get,” Henderson said. “He just left too many balls in the middle of the plate, which we've had a tendency to do. We needed to execute pitches, and we didn’t do it. Dray didn’t do it either.”
In his longest outing of the season, Todd Eaton pitched the final three innings for SIU and did not allow a hit in his first two and two-thirds innings of work. The Salukis closer allowed an unearned run in the ninth after surpassing his highest pitch total of the season.
For the second day in a row, SIU crossed the plated in the ninth, but Montgomery’s solo home run was too little, too late.
Having completed their portion of the Valley schedule, the Salukis are now assured the sixth spot in the conference tournament unless next weekend’s series between Illinois State and Evansville results in a sweep for either school, which would move SIU up to the fifth seed.
SIU has lost a season worst six in a row and will try to rebound on Tuesday with a 7 p.m. non-conference match with Saint Louis at GCS Ballpark in Sauget, Ill. Southern is expected to call on the pitching staff for a group effort in the game but has not announced which member of the bullpen will make the start.
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