May 23, 2007
By Jeff Honza
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Ambidextrous reliever Pat Venditte allowed only one hit in 5.2 scoreless innings to help Creighton University (41-13) overcome a five-run deficit and beat Southern Illinois (34-21), 8-5, earlier today in the first round of the Missouri Valley Conference Baseball Championship.
The Salukis played as good as they have all year in the first two innings.
SIU extended its lead to 5-0 when Hills doubled and Kelly singled to push across three two-out runs in the second. Koski, who scored on Hills' hit, became the school's all-time career leader in runs.
CU starting left-hander Marc Lewis gave way to Casey Schmidt immediately following Kelly's hit, and the Bluejay bullpen was untouchable from then on.
Schmidt recorded the final out of the second, tossed a scoreless third and recorded the first out in the fourth.
Venditte took over after that and retired 14-straight before giving up a leadoff single to Dean Cademartori in the ninth, SIU's first hit since the fourth inning.
Venditte (8-2) did an outstanding job of keeping the Dawgs off-balance en route to his eighth win of the season.
"I give a lot of credit to Venditte," said Saluki head coach Dan Callahan. "We got to their bullpen early and felt good about our chances, but Venditte kept us guessing."
Joy, in his MVC Tournament debut, gave up six hits, hit a batter, threw a wild pitch and issued an uncharacteristic six walks in 4.2 innings of work.
He also gave up a two-run homer to Chad Ogden with two outs in the second, the hit which jump-started the Jays' comeback.
"Shawn struggled with his control and it just wasn't his day," said Callahan.
CU cut the lead to 5-3 with an unearned run in the third before tying the game in the fifth.
Joy gave up a leadoff walk to MVC Player-of-the-Year Darin Ruf and a RBI-double to Andrew Small. Small scored on Steve Winkelmann's hit to knot the game at 5-5, and that was it for Joy.
Daniel Wells pitched out of the fifth, but was credited with the go-ahead run when Small scored Ross Sinclair on a sacrifice fly in the sixth.
SIU trailed by just a run (6-5) heading into the eighth, but two errors and a mental mishap sunk all hopes for the Salukis.
With one out, Chris Gradoville lifted a routine pop fly to first. The ball, however, dropped between Hills and Elmendorf for a hit. Gradoville would come around to score with the help of a Ruf single and Small base knock to left.
Winkelmann then hit a routine grounder off Hills' glove. Elmendorf picked up the ball and threw past first base and Ruf scored to give CU a 8-5 lead. Two errors were assessed on the play.
"It was borderline embarrassing how things evolved in the eighth," said Callahan.
Wells fell to 2-3 after taking the tough luck loss.
Offensively, CU outhit SIU, 12-10.
Koski, Hills, Kelly and Cademartori accounted for eight of the 10 Saluki hits.
SIU will play Wichita State in an elimination game at 11 a.m., CST, Thursday. Sophomore right-hander Cody Adams (11-4) takes the mound for the Salukis Thursday.
Game Notes: CU starting LHP Marc Lewis gave up 15 hits and eight runs in 6.2 innings in his last two starts against SIU...Kevin Koski broke SIU's all-time career runs record when he scored in the second inning...Koski's 190 runs surpassed Joe Schley (189 runs, 1996-99)...Koski also had two hits today and needs just three more to become SIU's all-time hits leader...The Bluejays have won 22 of their last 24 games...SIU has lost five-straight games at the MVC Tournament...SIU met CU for the ninth time in MVC Tournament play...The Salukis are 6-3 in those games...SIU faces elimination after first round action for the second-straight year...The Salukis went two-and-out at the 2006 MVC Tournament in Wichita after losing to Missouri State and Evansville.