May 25, 2006
By Jeff Honza
WICHITA, Kan. - Top-seeded University of Evansville (37-20) sent twelve men to the plate in a six-run fourth inning en route to run-ruling Southern Illinois (33-25), 10-0, in seven innings at the ConAgra Foods Missouri Valley Conference Tournament earlier today.
The Salukis were eliminated in their first two games at a conference tournament for the first time since 2002.
Starting left-hander Tyler Norrick gave SIU a chance early, but self-destructed in an inning that rapidly spiraled out of control.
Two Saluki errors, five hits and a hit batsman led to a 6-0 lead for the Aces and it all started when Norrick plunked Pat Tumilty.
An error, a fielder's choice, four-straight singles and another miscue came after that, and just like that, UE had five of its six runs on the board. The other run would then come home on a RBI-single by Robbie Minor.
"We had a chance to get an out, but things turned into a circus," said Norrick. "We couldn't stop the bleeding and everything snowballed."
UE then added two more runs in the fifth, one in the sixth and three in the seventh to end SIU's trip to Wichita in a hurry.
Norrick ended his Saluki career at 5-5 after scattering seven hits and giving up six runs in 3.2 innings. He also struck out three and walked two.
Ben Norton (9-3), who only allowed seven hits in 14 innings in two starts against SIU this season, had his way with the Saluki offense.
Norton, the league's Newcomer-of-the-Year, recorded eight strikeouts and did not allow a hit in his last four innings, where he retired 13-straight. Also, only five Salukis reached base against him, with only one making it past second.
"He did a great job pitching with a lead and we couldn't get anything going against him," said Callahan.
Just two weeks ago, SIU sat a half-a-game out of first-place in the Valley standings entering a key three-game series against UE.
"Today epitomizes how the last three weeks of our season has gone," said Callahan. "There was so much uncertainty as to which team was going to show up to the ballpark and we picked a bad time to go down in flames."