Aaron Hauge, pitching with a broken nose, held Wichita State to one hit in 6.0 innings.
May 22, 2014
By Scott Gierman
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – In a year in which Southern Illinois played more extra-inning games than any other school in the nation, the Salukis’ season ended in the 12th inning with a 2-1 loss to Wichita State Thursday afternoon at Bob Warn Field. The Shockers (31-27) eliminated SIU (26-31) on the third day of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament for the second year in a row. The game marked the Salukis’ 25th one-run game of the year, also the most in the nation.
“It is so fitting, a one-run game, an extra-inning game,” SIU Coach Ken Henderson said. “It’s been a frustrating year.”
Dayne Parker scored the winning run from third base when Chase Simpson beat out a potential double play at first base. With one out in the inning, Parker and Casey Gillaspie hit back-to-back singles off Lee Weld, working in his first inning out of the bullpen. That set up the RBI situation for Simpson who hit a ground ball to Ryan Rosthenhausler. Rosthenhausler fielded the ball near the third base bag and threw to second base for the first out, at which point Parker broke for home while Kopach threw to first in an attempt to complete an inning-ending double play.
“That’s what you call check defense,” Henderson said. “If it’s a true double play ball, you turn it, and if it’s not, then you go to the plate. (Parker) didn’t break at all. I think Connor was a little late getting (to second base) because of where he was playing with a left-handed hitter, but it was the right decision. We just didn’t get it turned.”
WSU’s Foster Vielock then retired SIU in order in the bottom of the 12th to finish off the Salukis. Vielock pitched four and a third scoreless innings to earn the win. The SIU offense’s only two runners against him were a pair of walks.
Weld took the loss in the fifth-year senior’s final outing.
The two teams combined for five hits in the game. Wichita State held the Salukis to one hit on the day with the help of numerous outstanding defensive plays. In the first three innings alone, Kopach and Ryan Casillas lined out right at a Shocker defender, and Matt Jones and Rosthenhausler were retired on diving catches on fly balls hit down the line. That was an indication of the way things would go all day.
“We barreled up a lot of balls and very easily could’ve had seven, eight, nine hits and three or four runs,” Henderson said.
SIU had a chance to end the game in the 10th inning. With the score still tied at 1-1, the Salukis moved runners to the corners with two outs, and Welch lined a ball to center field. It would’ve given Southern a walkoff win, but the ball hung up long enough for Kihle to make the catch and extend the game.
“It’s tough to see that happen,” Welch said. “You get your hopes up, and then you see it’s right at them. I guess that’s our season in a nutshell.”
SIU got a great outing from starting pitcher Aaron Hauge. After missing his last two starts with a broken nose, Hauge was strong in his return. Pitching with a protective mask, he held the Shockers to one hit and one unearned run in six-plus inning of work.
He issued two walks in the first inning and worked his way out of a jam in the second inning, pitching around a hit batter and an error. From there, he settled in and threw a seven-pitch third inning.
After Hauge issued a leadoff walk in the seventh, Kyle Pauly relieved him and threw four scoreless innings to keep the game tied at 1-1 through 10 innings.
Wichita State took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning when Kihle singled to center field. Dyllin Mucha tried to play the ball off the short hop, but the ball bounced past him and rolled far enough to allow Kihle to score on the three-base error. It was the freshman centerfielder’s first error of his college career.
“He put his chest in front of it,” Henderson said. “It skipped by him. He’s done a great job for us all year long. He’s a nice little player, and he’s going to have a great career, so you certainly can’t put it on him.”
SIU responded by manufacturing a run of their own in the bottom of the fourth. Welch drew a leadoff walk, stole second base and moved to third on a wild pitch. Cody Daily then drove him home with a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 1-1.
With the game tied 1-1 in the sixth inning, the Salukis loaded the bases thanks to two walks and an error. However, the inning ended as Jake Hand hit a ground ball up the middle and was thrown out on a bang-bang play.
“That’s kind of the story of our year,” Henderson said. “If that ball is two feet further up the middle, that’s two runs, especially since we were running with a 3-2 pitch. That’s the way things have gone.”
However, the Shockers lost their starting pitcher on the play as Sam Tewes injured his knee reaching for the ground ball on the play. He was carted from the field after limited the Salukis to one run off one hit in six innings of work.
Despite the outcome, Henderson was proud of his team’s effort in a game that started barely 12 hours after the conclusion of Tuesday night’s loss to Illinois State.
“We showed up for an elimination game at nine in the morning and played our rear ends off,” Henderson said. “That’s as good of an effort as we’ve had all year. Even after we gave up the run, it was upbeat (in the dugout). I’m unbelievably proud of the way we competed today.”
The Salukis will say good bye to 13 seniors, and while the season ended in disappointment, an emotional Henderson reiterated how pleased he was with their commitment.
“I can’t say enough about how proud I am of how hard we played every day and our effort,” Henderson said. “You can’t say our guys don’t care. Our seniors care.”