Derek Trovillion gave SIU the lead with a two-run double in the third inning.
May 18, 2013
CARBONDALE, Ill. – Southern Illinois surrendered a two-run ninth-inning lead and lost its regular season finale 8-6 to Illinois State in the 10th inning Saturday afternoon in the final game at the current Abe Martin Field. For the Salukis (24-31, 6-15 MVC), the loss marked the fifth time they were swept in a three-game series this season. It also clinched the outright Missouri Valley Conference championship for the Redbirds (36-18, 16-5).
In his first at-bat of the game, freshman Jack Czeszewski delivered the game-winning RBI single for Illinois State after he scored the tying run as a pinch runner in the ninth. Czeszewski’s hit came with two on and two out against closer Todd Eaton, who fell to 1-3 on the season with the loss.
“Todd’s been great for us all year,” Henderson said. “He’s a tremendous pitcher, but it just wasn’t his day.”
Eaton blew his third save of the season in the ninth after loading up the bases to start the inning. He issued two walks and a single before Illinois State cut the lead to 8-7 on Eric Hinshaw’s sacrifice fly. Zac Johnson followed with a single to center field to tie the game.
Henderson pointed to a leadoff walk in the ninth inning as the game-changing moment that set up the Redbirds’ comeback.
“We had a 1-2 count to the eight hole in the ninth inning and walked him,” Henderson said. “That’s the difference in the ball game. That is the ballgame.”
It was the third time in the game that Southern build a lead but could not hold it. The Salukis also led 2-1 after two innings and 5-2 after three innings. In each instance, they surrendered the lead in the following half inning.
The Salukis did not manage a hit after the sixth inning. Reliever Jeremy Rhoades entered with two outs in the sixth and retired the next 13 batters in order to pick up his second win of the year and lower his season ERA to 0.77.
“He’s good,” Henderson said. “He did a great job out of their bullpen, but if we didn’t hand them that situation, then it doesn’t matter.”
Neither starter made it past the fourth inning Saturday. Southern knocked Illinois State’s Brad Sorkin out of the game after he loaded up the bases with no outs in the third and surrendered a two-run single to Saluki first baseman Derek Trovillion.
Sorkin’s replacement, Will Headean then balked home a run to extend SIU’s lead to 5-2. That led to an argument from ISU head coach Mark Kingston, who was ejected from the game.
Saluki starter Aaron Snyder allowed six runs in three and a third innings of work and left in line for the loss.
Jacob Williams and Tyler Dray came out of the pen and allowed the Dawgs to fight their way back into the game. Williams allowed just two runners in three scoreless innings. Dray relieved Williams with one out and a runner on base in the seventh. He retired all five batters he faced, three of them by strikeout, to maintain SIU’s lead heading to the ninth inning.
“Williams and Dray were tremendous,” Henderson said. “They threw up zeros, and we had a two-run lead in the ninth. We had everything we could ask for set up perfectly.”
Southern Illinois will open its Missouri Valley Conference Tournament schedule with a 12:37 p.m. game with Wichita State on Tuesday in Normal, Ill. It will be a pitching rematch of an April 26 game that pitted Cody Forsythe for the Salukis against Cale Elam of Wichita State. It was a game that SIU won.
“If we as hard as we did today on Tuesday,” Henderson said, “we have a chance. If we play that hard and with that kind of effort, we have a chance.”