SIU faces elimination following 6-1 loss to Illinois State

    Cody Daily scored SIU's only run, which was unearned.

    Cody Daily scored SIU's only run, which was unearned.
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    May 21, 2014

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    By Scott Gierman

    TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – Illinois State hit three home runs while Southern Illinois managed only three hits in a 6-1 loss in its second game of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Wednesday evening at Bob Warn Field. SIU (26-30) has now lost its last 12 games against the Redbirds (32-25) and will play Wichita State in an elimination game on Thursday at 8 a.m. Central Time.

    The Redbirds took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on Paul DeJong’s two-run home run. They stretched the lead to 3-0 in the bottom of the fourth. Mike Hollenbeck led off that inning with a double and scored when Logan Leverett lined a single past Eaton.

    Southern Illinois momentarily climbed back into the game with an unearned run in the top of the fifth to cut the lead to 3-1. Cody Daily broke up Dylan Craig’s perfect game with a leadoff double to the warning track in right-center field. The next batter, Jake Hand, hit a grounder to the left side. Shortstop Dennis Colon fielded the ball, glanced at Daily, who broke towards third, and threw the ball offline to first base, allowing Daily to score.

    However, Illinois State matched and raised the Salukis in the bottom of the fifth with a pair of home runs totaling three runs to open up a 6-1 advantage. Jack Czeszewski hit a one-out solo homer, and two batters later, Mike Hollenbeck hit a two-run blast to right field. Eaton surrendered two more hits in the inning but ended it with a strikeout.

    “I thought they hit some good pitches,” SIU Coach Ken Henderson said. “They just had a great day. Sometimes you just have to tip your hat and say, they had a great day and they beat us today.”

    Eaton took the loss, the first in his last 10 outings. It snapped his three-decision winning streak. The senior allowed three home runs, which accounted for five of the six runs against him in his five innings of work.

    “I thought Todd had good stuff, but every time he made a mistake, they made him pay for it,” Henderson said. “It’s not like he was bad or made a lot of mistakes. He pitched pretty well.”

    Meanwhile, Craig was nearly unhittable for most of the game and earned his sixth win of the year. He allowed three hits in eight innings of work and struck out a career-high 11 while not allowing a walk.

    “You have to tip your hat to him,” Henderson said. “That was as good as we’ve seen a pitcher all year. He has good stuff. I can’t imagine he’s been much better all year. He just had great command of everything.”

    Craig threw 98 pitches and might’ve had a chance to record his first complete game since 2012, but the game was interrupted for two hours and 21 minutes because of lightning immediately following the eighth inning.

    When the game resumed, reliever David Suarez retired SIU in order in the span of four minutes to end the game.

    Chad Whitmer was the only reliever the Salukis used. He threw three scoreless innings, allowing two hits, but on the other side of the scorecard, SIU managed only one base runner in the final three innings of the game.

    Southern Illinois will need a win a Thursday morning to keep its season alive. For SIU lefty Aaron Hauge will make his first start in 18 days after suffering a broken a nose. Wichita State will counter with right-handed Sam Tewes. The winner will advance to face Illinois State later that day at 3 p.m. Central Time.