Saluki bats struggle against ISU Sycamores

Saluki bats struggle against ISU Sycamores

By Tony McDaniel

Despite four extra innings and a win Friday, SIU couldn’t catch up to the pitching of the Sycamores and lost the final two games of the series.

The Salukis (18-17) failed to get their bats going with runners in scoring position against Indiana State University (23-10) and have dropped five of their last seven games.

Friday night, the Dawgs and Sycamores sent their best pitchers to the mound in what would turn out to be a duel between the two starters.

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Junior Sam Coonrod shined under the lights of Itchy Jones Stadium. Coonrod threw eight scoreless innings with nine strikeouts and just three hits before being pulled from the game for freshman Kyle Pauly.

Unfortunately for SIU, Coonrod’s performance was overshadowed by the opposing pitcher’s.

Sycamore junior David Stagg carried a no-hitter through nine innings with eight strikeouts and just three walks before leaving the game in the 10th inning.

The Salukis would need extra innings for the eighth time this season to score their first runs of the game, and they had to come from behind to win.

In the top of the 13th inning, the Sycamores broke the stalemate when junior Derek Hannahs grounded out to third base with the bases loaded to score sophomore Jeff Zahn and give ISU the potential winning run.

The Salukis didn’t roll over, though.

In the bottom of the frame, with SIU trailing 1-0, senior Jake Welch hit a single to centerfield to score the runner from second base to tie the game at one. On the next at-bat, senior Ryan Rosthenhausler hit a single to right field to score senior Donny Duschinsky from second for the walk-off win.

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After the game, coach Ken Henderson said the game was unbelievably frustrating.

“I don’t know how in the hell we won it, but we did,” he said.

In Saturday’s game, the Dawgs went into the ninth inning with a 4-3 lead and their closer, senior Tyler Dray, on the mound.

Dray allowed back-to-back one out RBIs to give ISU a 5-4 lead. SIU failed to put any runners on base in the bottom of the ninth to give Indiana State the win.

Senior Todd Eaton started the game for the Salukis and pitched well in seven innings of work. Eaton said he settled down after the allowing two runs in the first two innings.

“The first inning seemed like it had a pretty slow pace,” Eaton said. “From the second inning on I felt like I had a better pace and got after guys a little bit better.

Henderson said he was disappointed with his bullpen’s ability to hold on to the lead late in the game.

“[Dray] didn’t execute pitches in crunch time,” he said. “We also can’t walk a guy in the eighth inning. You got a two-run lead and you hand it to your bullpen; you can’t walk a guy leading off the inning … neither one of our relievers executed pitches.”

Game three was also decided in the final inning.

The Sycamores and Salukis were tied at four going into the ninth inning when Pauly entered the game with a runner on second. Indiana State’s Landon Curry singled through the middle to score the go-ahead run from second.

The Dawgs had runners on first and second with only one out in the bottom of the ninth when senior Cody Daily grounded into a double play to end the game.

Henderson said he thought his team played better Sunday but failed to execute again in the late innings.

“We had better approaches, we did pick some guys up early in the game,” Henderson said. “I thought we played better; I thought we did a lot of good stuff. We just didn’t execute enough down the stretch to win the game.”

The Salukis face the University of Tennessee-Martin 5 p.m. Tuesday at Itchy Jones Stadium.

Tony McDaniel can be reached at [email protected], @tonymcdanielDE or at 536-3311 ext. 282

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