May 14, 2006
By Jeff Honza
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Southern Illinois University (32-21, 11-10) entered the weekend in the hunt for this year's Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title. Now, the Salukis are fighting to make the league's postseason tournament after Evansville (32-19, 13-8) swept the Dawgs with a 10-4 victory today.
UE, who has won six in a row, polished off its first-ever sweep of SIU at Abe Martin Field. The Aces also became the first Valley team to sweep the Dawgs at home since 1999.
"I'm extremely disappointed with the way we played this weekend," said Saluki head coach Dan Callahan. "We didn't come ready to play."
UE never trailed the entire weekend and finished off SIU in a dominating fashion.
The Aces staked starting right-hander Scott Souther to a 5-0 lead with the help of Kirk Bacsu's three-run homer in the first and back-to-back RBI-doubles courtesy of Kasey Wahl and Bacsu in the third.
Despite the fact SIU came away with one run in the bottom half of the third, UE continued to pour it on with two more tallies in the fourth and another three in the fifth.
Jeff Fontaine reached on an error to lead off the fourth and later scored on a single by Jim Viscomi. Viscomi, after stealing second and third, scored on an ensuing double by Watts.
A pair of sacrifice flies and a single by Jeff Zelenovich brought the other three runs home in the fifth to extend UE's lead to 10-1.
SIU's last three runs came via the long ball after Grant Gerrard hit a two-run homer over the left field wall in the sixth and Chris McCulloch launched a solo shot in the same direction to start the ninth.
Souther improved to 5-1 after scattering five hits and allowing three runs in 6.2 frames. He also struck out four and retired six-straight to start the game.
Offensively, the Aces were led by Watts, who went a perfect 4-for-4 with three doubles, two runs scored and a RBI.
UE's three, four and five hitters of Watts, Wahl and Bacsu combined to hit .618 (8-for-13) with six runs scored, five doubles, a home run and six RBI on the day.
Four teams, including Wichita State (15-9, .625), UE (13-8, .619), Missouri State (12-8, .600) and Creighton (12-9, .571) appear to have secured spots in this year's MVC Tournament (May 24-27 in Wichita, Kan.).
Bradley (11-9, .550) and SIU (11-10, .524) are in fifth and sixth, respectively, while Illinois State (8-13, .381) follows close behind in seventh.
The Salukis visit ILS for their final MVC series on May 18-20. The Dawgs must win one game against the Redbirds to make the tournament.
"We have to bounce back and can't overlook Illinois State next week," said Callahan.
SIU and ILS open a three-game series at 6 p.m., CST on Thursday, May 18.