Salukis hit stride at home

By Terrance Peacock

The Salukis showed a power surge as they hit six home runs in two wins during their 2013 home debut at the 27th-annual Coach B Classic.

The Sunday and Monday series was originally scheduled as a four-team round-robin tournament with eight games slated for Saturday and Sunday, but the tournament was modified to four games Sunday and Monday because of Saturday’s inclement weather.

SIU (9-8) faced Butler University (2-9) Sunday and issued their first run-rule of the season, 9-0, in the sixth inning to the struggling Bulldogs.

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The Salukis came out of the gate swinging as they tallied six runs in the first inning, thanks to great early at bats and a first-inning grand slam from sophomore outfielder Meredith Wilson, which second of the season.

“(Butler sophomore Leah Bry) was working me away, then she threw me low and in for some reason and that’s my favorite,” Wilson said. “It felt pretty good.”

SIU scored two more runs in the first inning courtesy of faulty Butler pitching and patient Saluki batters.

The onslaught continued in the second inning as junior infielder Jayna Spivey shot a ball over the right-field fence for her third home run of the season to increase SIU’s lead to seven.

The Salukis’ bats stayed quiet for the next three innings, but they saw life in the sixth as freshman infielder Kelsey Gonzalez reached on an error to lead off the inning, which made way for senior outfielder Michelle Bradley to end the game on a two-run homerun over the left field fence. This was the Salukis’ third deep shot of the contest.

Senior pitcher Brittney Lang picked up her sixth win of the season as she pitched a two-hit complete game.

Coach Kerri Blaylock said she was pleased with her team’s early inning success but has concerns with how her team performs in middle innings.

“We did a great job in the first inning taking pitches, and I thought Meredith did a great job finishing off with a grand slam,” Blaylock said. “That was the good part of the game. Then we went through a lull again, and as we go along I hope we realize we can’t do that.”

The Salukis ended their middle-inning drought Monday, when they scored at least two runs in each inning in a 12-4 victory over Northern Illinois. The game was cut short after five innings because of the run-rule, which stops a game if the winning team is leads by 12 runs after three innings, 10 runs after four or eight runs after five. This was the Salukis’ second of the tournament.

The Huskies (6-7) got on the board first with an RBI single from senior infielder Amanda Sheppard. Northern Illinois saw success from each inning’s lead-off hitter as the first batter of each reached base.

However, the Huskies mustered only three more runs for the rest of the game. They scored one in the fourth and two more in the fifth on a two-run home run by junior infielder Shelby Miller.

The Salukis scored their first two runs of the game on bases-loaded walks of junior infielder Taylor Orsburn and junior catcher Allie VadeBoncouer to lead the game 2-1 after the first inning.

Orsburn’s second-inning RBI double and senior outfielder Morgan Barchan’s two-run drive in the third helped contribute to the Salukis’ commanding five-run lead after three innings.

Wilson blasted a two-run home run over the left field fence. Spivey approached the batter’s box in the fifth and also connected for a two-run long ball.

Wilson’s and Spivey’s homeruns were the Salukis’ fifth and sixth of the tournament and their second of the Coach B Classic.

Sophomore pitcher Alyssa Wunderlich picked up the win for the Salukis after allowing four runs on eight hits in 4.2 innings of work.

Blaylock said the wind played a major factor in the team’s power numbers Sunday and Monday.

“In Florida, everywhere we went we felt like the wind was blowing in on us,” she said. “We felt like we should have had seven or eight (homeruns), but we only had four. We thought we’d be in better shape once we got back here.”

Spivey said the team is relieved to be back at home after three consecutive trips to Florida.

“We love playing at home,” Spivey said. “We always hit well, pitch well and play well. We’re finally clicking on all cylinders, and I’m looking forward to next weekend because I think it’s going to bring similar results.”

The Salukis look to stay hot at home as they host the Saluki Invitational Saturday and Sunday. SIU will host Belmont, Eastern Kentucky, Illinois-Chicago and Wisconsin during the invite.

“Wisconsin is going to be tough,” Blaylock said. “We have another good RPI game there and the other three teams we have coming can all hit the ball.”

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