Salukis end six-game skid

By Gus Bode

It took a little longer than desired for the SIU baseball team to snap its losing streak during its three-game tournament over the weekend.

The Salukis entered the Bright House Invitational in Deland, Fla., mired in a four-game losing streak and lost to South Alabama on Friday and Stetson on Saturday before pulling out a win Sunday over Iowa.

‘It’s great to get a win and get that big gorilla off our back, I guess, and makes the trip home a lot better and puts us in a right frame of mind heading home for a long home stand,’ associate coach Ken Henderson said in a phone interview.

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Henderson said the losses did not reflect the way SIU (2-6) had been playing. The Salukis lost 3-2 to South Alabama after the Jaguars scored on a walk-off error in the bottom of the ninth inning to break a 2-2 tie, and the Salukis led Stetson 4-2 Saturday heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, when Stetson scored eight runs en route to a 10-5 win.

The loss to South Alabama tainted the star from SIU, senior starting pitcher Adam Curynski, who pitched 7.2 innings and gave up eight hits, two earned runs and one walk while striking out three.

On Sunday, the Salukis jumped out to a 4-0 lead after two innings. They also finished strong, with the bullpen working 4.1 innings without a reliever being charged with an earned run.

‘We finished the game today, that’s the bottom line,’ Henderson said. ‘We’d been playing well, even in South Carolina last weekend, we played well for six, seven innings, then we fall apart. Today we finished the game.’

Over the three-game stretch in Deland, Fla., junior shortstop Michael Stalter hit 5-for-12 with five RBIs, five runs, one double and one triple.

Senior catcher Mark Kelly bounced back Sunday from a 0-for-5 showing on Saturday, going 2-for-4 at the plate with two doubles, two runs and an RBI. He reached on a two-out error in the bottom of the first against Iowa, and four-straight singles by SIU and a passed ball by the Hawkeyes gave the Salukis a 3-0 lead.

The senior backstop also hit a two-run double to score junior right fielder Aaron Roberts in the bottom of the second inning as SIU’s first four runs all came with two outs.

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‘When you can score with two outs it’s so lifting for your team and so deflating for the other team,’ Kelly said. ‘It’s almost more of a momentum thing than just getting runs.’

All nine SIU starters had a hit in the win against Iowa, and the Salukis’ 3-4-5 hitters – Stalter, Kelly and junior first baseman Wade Dutton – posted two hits and two runs each in what Kelly said was a relieving win.

‘Everybody can take a deep breath and just kind of go back to the way they’re supposed to be playing,’ Kelly said. ‘We did a good job picking each other up.’

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