Six-Run Sixth Powers Salukis Past Braves, 6-4

    Kelsey Gonzalez went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored.

    Kelsey Gonzalez went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored.
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    April 13, 2014

    By John Lock

    Box Score

    PEORIA, Ill. - The Southern Illinois softball team got a sixth-run sixth inning to topple Bradley, 6-4, at Laura Bradley Park on Sunday afternoon. Southern's runs came just in time, as the game was called after the sixth inning due to rain and gave SIU the series win over Bradley (18-23, 9-5 MVC).

    "The kids showed a tremendous amount of fight," head coach Kerri Blaylock said. "We made a couple of baserunning mistakes early, and they got the big three-run homer. I just challenged the kids to stay calm, not get caught up in it and get our chances at the plate, and we did that."

    SIU started in a three-run hole for the third-straight game when Bradley's pinch hitter Kathryn Spenn came through with a two-out, three-run home run in the third inning. In a game moved up two hours due to impending rain, the score was an ever-present concern for both teams, since the game was likely to end as soon as the rain started.

    The Salukis had chances in the fourth and fifth innings but came away empty handed. SIU got three hits but no runs in the fourth, and it got two more hits and no runs in the fifth. At that point, the game would have been official had rain forced the cancellation of the rest of the game.

    When the Salukis got a chance in the sixth, they took advantage. For the third straight inning, SIU started with a pair of base runners on. Kelsey Gonzalez hit an RBI single, and a second run came around to score on an error. With Gonzalez aboard and a 3-2 deficit, Taylor Orsburn blasted a home run to right field to give the Salukis a 4-3 lead. Michelle Glenn followed that with a bunt single, and Merri Anne Patterson continued her solid weekend with the first home run of her career, a two-run shot.



    Southern Illinois won their second MVC series of the year, and it wasn't the usual suspects who came through for the weekend. Gonzalez, SIU's No. 9 hitter for most of the year, got bumped up into the No. 5 hole and hit .444 on the weekend. Kelsea Ashton entered the series hitting under .200, and she went 4-for-6 with a .778 on-base percentage on the weekend. Meredith Wilson hit .333 and hit the home run in yesterday's 7-6 win that ended up being the difference in the game. Patterson started all three games and played a huge role in both SIU wins, throwing out the potential tying run at the plate yesterday and hitting the two-run insurance home run today that secured the win.

    "We decided to move Kelsea (Ashton) up in the lineup because she's been hitting so well in MVC play," Blaylock said. "Gonzo has been the ball very, very well. Merri Anne deserved a shot out there, and she did a great job."

    Bradley threatened to turn the game back around in the bottom half. The Braves got another pinch-hit home run--one that broke Bradley's single-season record for home runs by a team--to get within 6-4 and had another runner on second before Gonzalez caught a line drive and doubled off the runner to end the threat.

    Southern Illinois got two batters to the plate in the top of the seventh before a lighting strike forced the umpires to delay and eventually call the game. Katie Bertelsen (10-8) pitched five strong innings and got the win to pick up her fifth MVC win this season. Taylor Orsburn pitched the sixth to get her second save of the year.

    "If (Katie Bertelsen) can stay around three earned runs, that's her ERA," Blaylock said. "Then, it's our job to score runs. She did that today, which is what she's supposed to do. Taylor (Orsburn) did a great job getting some ground ball outs. She did a fantastic job."

    UP NEXT: The Salukis have a big week of MVC play, starting with a doubleheader against Evansville on Wednesday, starting at 3 p.m. Southern welcomes Loyola to Carbondale for a three-game set on April 18-19, with a doubleheader on Friday starting at 3 and a series finale at Noon on Saturday. All five games will be at Charlotte West Stadium.