Salukis avoid sweep, remain in 2nd place

By Gus Bode

The SIU baseball team snapped out of its weekend offensive funk just in time to avoid a series sweep, beating Creighton 3-1 Sunday to maintain second place in the Missouri Valley Conference standings.

Creighton (22-7, 5-1), which entered the weekend tied with the Salukis for first place, jumped into sole possession of the top spot with its 5-3 game one victory and 7-0 shutout win in game two.

The Salukis (17-11, 4-2) are now tied with Evansville, who took a series from No. 21 Wichita State 2-1, for second place in the league standings.

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Even though Creighton and the Salukis top the MVC in just about every major offensive statistical category, this past weekend’s series wasn’t the slugfest it was cracked up to be.

And sure enough, the dormant bats contributed to the Salukis’ 2-1 series loss.

Coming off a weekend in which SIU scored 33 runs in a sweep of Northern Iowa, the Salukis managed just six against Creighton and were held scoreless for 18 consecutive innings after scoring three runs in the first inning Friday.

Game one began with Grant Gerrard ripping an RBI double, Matt Brewer scoring on a throwing error and Dean Cademartori driving home Gerrard to go on top 3-0.

SIU loaded the bases the following inning, but a double play stranded the base runners and stuffed the Salukis’ offense for pretty much the next two days. Creighton came back to win 5-3 and proceeded to take game two 7-0 in dominant fashion.

“We went 18 innings without scoring a run. You don’t see that very often,” said SIU head coach Dan Callahan after saying his Salukis let Friday’s game slip away. “You’re playing on Astroturf with aluminum bats, and you think you’re going to see a little more productivity than that. We just didn’t swing it well.

“But you’ve got to give credit to the opposing team’s pitching staff sometimes. They threw some good arms at us.”

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The Salukis recovered from the lapse Sunday, defeating the Bluejays 3-1 to avoid the sweep. Chris McCulloch hit a two-RBI single in the second inning to score Grant Gerrard and Nathan Emrick. A Hunter Harrigan double scored McCulloch in the fifth inning to give SIU the 3-1 lead.

Jason Chavez and Adam Snyder pitched three innings of scoreless relief to preserve the victory for starter Bryan Rueger (4-2), who gave up eight hits and just one run in 5.2 innings of work.

“Getting swept on the road can be demoralizing as heck, and I think we did a good job as far as coming back today to avoid the sweep,” Callahan said. “Every game is important. That is why getting out of here with a win [Sunday] was huge.”

Reporter Adam Soebbing can be reached at [email protected]

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