Chris Serritella lined a single to left field to score Jake Welch with the game-winner.
May 24, 2012
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Chris Serritella’s 10th inning RBI single gave SIU a 9-8 walk-off win over Bradley Wednesday night in the second round of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. The Salukis battled back after being down 7-1 in the third inning and then overcame a one-run deficit in the eighth inning to tie the game at 8-8.
With the win, SIU is one win away from playing in the MVC Championship game.
“I’m proud of our kids,” Henderson said. “It was 7-1 in the third inning, and we could’ve shut it down at that point, but we never did. We just continued to battle as hard as we could. This group refused to let that happen.”
After stranding a runner at third base in the bottom of the ninth, SIU would not be denied in the 10th. Jake Welch drew a one-out walk and advanced to second base on Derek Trovillion’s single up the middle. Trovillion was two-for-three in the game after replacing Brock Harding in the sixth inning.
Trovillion’s single set up Serritella, who lined a single into left field to score Jake Welch and start the celebration.
“Pitchers have been throwing him fastballs early, but they’re all on the outer black,” Henderson said. “It’s not a ball he’s going to hit to the gap, but he can go with the pitch. To see him do that in that big of an AB was great.”
After a two-inning save on Tuesday night, Todd Eaton pitched two and two-thirds perfect innings to earn the win for SIU on Wednesday night.
“He wanted the ball, and his slider was tremendous tonight,” Henderson said. “He was good last night, but he was better tonight.”
SIU tied the game at 8-8 in the bottom of the eighth on Trovillion’s single through the left side of the infield. That put runners at first and second base for Serritella, who hit a deep fly ball to center field. It looked like it was going to be an extra-base hit and potential game winner, but Bradley’s Max Murphy made his second highlight reel, game-saving catch in as many nights in the tournament to keep the game tied headed to the ninth.
SIU had a runner in scoring position with a potential go-ahead run in each of the last five innings.
“I thought we had it won about three or four times,” Henderson said. “But we just kept going back to the dugout saying, Are you kidding me?”
SIU plated five runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to tie the game at 7-7. Chris Serritella capped the big inning with a two-run laser over the left field wall. It was his league leading 13th of the season. Brian Bajer started the big inning with a double and moved to third on Donny Duschinsky’s single. Bajer and Duschinsky both scored on back-to-back ground balls that resulted in errors and cut the deficit to 7-4. Brock Harding had a sac fly to cut it to 7-5 before Serritella’s big blast tied it. Only one of the runs in the inning was earned.
Henderson credited the Salukis energy and enthusiasm in the dugout in helping them back into the game.
“It’s been a long, long time since I’ve been around something like that,” Henderson said. “It was contagious. The guys just continued to believe and thinking good things were going to happen. The energy level was phenomenal, and that’s why we won the game.”
Bradley had appeared to break the game wide open in the top of the third inning, scoring four unearned runs thanks to SIU’s three errors in the inning. With a runner at third base, SIU starter Nathan Dorris was one out away from escaping the inning without any damage. However, Dorris surrendered an RBI single to extend the lead to 4-1. The next two batters reached on miscues by SIU shortstop Donny Duschinsky to load the bases. Chris Godinez then singled to score two runs. The third run crossed the plate as Rennie Troggio’s throw from center field bounced away from home plate to make it a 7-1 game.
The two teams combined for nine errors in the game. Both starters pitched three innings. Dorris allowed seven runs off five hits, but only two of his runs were earned. All four of his walks came in the first inning.
“With him, he has to pound the zone, and he didn’t do that,” Henderson said. “We also didn’t make the plays behind him, but we found a way to get ourselves out of it.”
Bradley’s Justin Ziegler allowed six runs, three of them earned, off six hits. He appeared to be well on his way to a win with the big lead, but he left the game after the first four batters reached to start the fourth inning.
Matt Murphy was the first reliever used by the Salukis and shut down the Braves offense for three scoreless innings. He entered the game right after SIU scored a run in the bottom of the third to cut the deficit to 7-2.
“When Murphy threw up that first zero,” Henderson said, “the dugout seemed to get some energy. The attitude was, Murph’s going to shut them down, and we’ll get our runs. That’s when we started to turn it around, when he threw up that first zero and stopped the bleeding a little bit.”
In total Murphy, Dray and Eaton combined for seven innings of relief and allowed just one run off five hits.
“Those guys to do what they did from the fourth inning on, I can’t say enough about them,” Henderson said. “That’s the game. We know we can hit, but you have to give yourself a chance.”
As the only 2-0 team in its bracket, SIU needs to win either Thursday or Friday to advance to Saturday’s MVC Championship game. SIU will play Thursday at 7:37 p.m. against the winner of Thursday afternoon’s game between Bradley and Missouri State. If the Salukis win on Thursday, they will have Friday off and play in Saturday's final round game. If Southern loses on Thursday, it will need to win on Friday to advance. Sam Coonrod is expected to make the start for Southern on Thursday.