Cody Forsythe earned his first career MVC Tournament victory.
May 22, 2012
By Scott Gierman
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Southern Illinois withstood a late surge to defeat Wichita State 6-3 in the first round of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Tuesday evening at Hammons Field. SIU jumped on Wichita State for four runs in the first four innings and put the game away with back-to-back homers in the ninth.
“It was a good day for us,” SIU Coach Ken Henderson said. “That’s the best we’ve played in all three areas of the game in a long time, and it all started on the bump.”
Cody Forsythe pitched seven strong innings to earn the first MVC Tournament victory of his career. The Second Team All-MVC pitcher was perfect through five innings before surrendering three runs in the sixth inning.
“I felt like I got into my rhythm really early,” Forsythe said. “Everything was working for me. It seemed to be going great.”
Forsythe struck out eight and did not allow a walk. He credited his five called third strikes to the Shockers anticipating his curveball.
“They were sitting on the curveball a little bit,” Forsythe said. “I had it going early, and I was able to sneak some fastballs by them off of that.”
WSU broke up Forsythe’s perfect game in the bottom of the sixth inning. The Shockers found virtually every hole in the defense to score three runs off five singles in the inning. It started with back-to-back singles from Dayne Parker and Tyler Baker. Josh Halbert followed with a high chopping infield single to load the bases. With one out, Erik Harbutz blooped a single just out of the reach of Serritella at first base to score a pair of runs and cut SIU’s lead to 4-2.
“I was in damage control at that point,” Forsythe. “They got some runners on. Got some hits off me but I just tried to minimize the damage.”
With SIU still in front 4-3, Wichita State missed a chance in the eighth inning. Kevin Hall led off with a single against Todd Eaton, who was in his first inning of relief. Then with one out and Johnny Coy at the plate, Hall had a good jump and a chance to steal second base. Instead, he stopped a third of the way down the baseline and was picked off by SIU catcher Brian Bajer. Eaton struck out Coy on the next pitch to end the inning.
That gave SIU the momentum back. Brian Bajer and Donny Duschinsky led off the top of the ninth with consecutive home runs to give Southern more breathing room with a 6-3 lead. Duschinsky was a triple away from the cycle in the game.
“Those two runs changed the whole complexion of the ninth inning,” Henderson said. “It took away the possibility of a bunt because it’s so much harder to play for three than to play for one.”
Eaton pitched around a pair of leadoff singles to toss a scoreless ninth and seal the win for the Salukis. It was Eaton’s ninth save of the year, tying him for fifth most in a season in school history.
“Todd Eaton made some phenomenal pitches in those last two innings,” Henderson said. “He threw some balls at the knees that were just tremendous.”
Jake Welch led off the game with a single for SIU, which helped Southern struck for a pair of runs in the first. Chris Serritella and Austin Montgomery each delivered an RBI single to give the Dawgs a 2-0 lead.
“Before the game started, everyone just talked about taking it game-by-game, and I think we did a great job coming right out of the gate getting those first two runs,” Serritella said. “(Welch) did a great job getting that leadoff hit, and everybody just followed from there.”
Serritella extended SIU’s lead to 3-0 with a solo home run to right field. That tied him with teammate Jordan Sivertsen for the league lead with 12 homers.
“It was a full count,” Serritella said, “and I had talked to Coach Strain beforehand about how they had thrown me a lot of sliders trying to get me to chase the last time we played. It was another slider, and I was able to keep my hands back and get it up.”
Starter Josh Smith took the loss for Wichita State. He could only record nine outs in the game. He left with SIU in front 4-0 after allowing consecutive doubles to start the fourth inning. Smith was charged with five runs off seven hits in three-plus innings.
T.J. McGreevy relieved Smith and completely shut down the Saluki offense to keep Wichita State in the game. He entered in the fourth inning with no outs, a runner at second base and the Salukis on the brink of turning the game into a rout. McGreevy retired 15 of the 16 SIU hitters he faced.
Southern will face the winner of the Missouri State and Bradley game on Wednesday at 7:37 p.m. at Hammons Field. Nathan Dorris will make the start for the Salukis.