May 15, 2007
By Jeff Honza
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Mark Kelly delivered a walk-off single with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning to lead Southern Illinois University (32-19) to a 5-4 comeback win over Eastern Illinois (20-27) earlier today at Abe Martin Field.
Things were looking bleak for SIU, which trailed, 4-2, when rain and lightning delayed the game for an hour.
Prior to the delay, SIU came away with only one run with the bases loaded in the eighth, but juiced the bags again in its final at-bat.
Michael Finigan drew a leadoff walk and went to second on a one-out single by Kevin Koski. Aaron Roberts walked after that to put Dawgs at every base. Adam Hills followed with a single to left, plating both Finigan and Koski to tie the game at 4-4.
Kelly then dug in and ripped Panther reliever Scott Foley's third offering into left field and Roberts touched home for the winning run. Kelly, who was hitless in his first four at-bats of the game, became the first Saluki this season to get a walk-off hit.
"It wasn't how you'd quite draw it up, but we'll take it," said Saluki head coach Dan Callahan. "I was disappointed with the way we played early on, but we got the big hits we needed in the end."
EIU starting left-hander Tyler Kehrer and right-handed reliever Alex Guttosch joined forces to allow one run on only one hit through the first six innings of the game.
The Panther offense complemented the dominating effort on the mound with an early 2-0 lead.
Casey Spears laid down the game's first pitch for a bunt single and went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Brett Nommensen. Erik Huber followed with a base hit to right and Spears scored.
SIU managed to pull to within a run without a getting a hit in the sixth.
The Panthers, however, answered with two more runs in the seventh after back-to-back two-out RBI-hits, including a triple by Nommensen and single by Huber pushed the lead to 4-1.
Hills scored on a balk to dice the lead to 4-2 in the eighth.
SIU was outhit, 12-6, and had 13 of its hitters reach base by either a hit by pitch, walk or fielder's choice.
Hills accounted for half of the hits, going 3-for-4 with a run scored and two RBI.
Bryant George moved to 3-0 on the year, scattering two hits in a scoreless ninth.
Foley (1-1) was credited with the loss after giving up three hits, walking two and allowing three earned runs in the game's final inning.
SIU finishes with a 22-8 record at Abe Martin Field.
The Salukis visit Indiana State for their last series of 2007. The three-game set opens Thursday at 6 p.m., CST.