Streaky Salukis win in walk-off fashion

Streaky Salukis win in walk-off fashion

By Aaron Graff

When the new lights turned on for the first time at Itchy Jones Stadium, they sparked the Saluki bats as they earn their third win in a row.

SIU (11-8) hosted Eastern Illinois University (4-16) for only one game. Freshman pitcher Connor McFadden had his fifth start of the season and did not allow a hit in 4.2 innings pitched, but gave up one run. The Salukis struggled to compile their hits together, but won 3-2 after a big ninth inning.

Coach Ken Henderson said the team worked on bunting and hitting with runners on base during Monday’s practice, which benefited them, but it did not look like it in the game.


“We worked for an hour and a half,” he said. “It’s all we did in practice yesterday (Monday) was situational hitting. We were pathetic at it today (Tuesday).”

The Panthers took a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Frankie Perrone drew a leadoff walk and advanced to third on two groundouts. McFadden threw a wild pitch, which allowed Perrone to score.

SIU loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning, but failed to capitalize.

Saluki pitchers kept EIU hitless until the seventh inning when Jason Scholl hit a single to right center. Henderson said the pitching staff did well, but walked too many batters.

“In some regards, we were outstanding,” Henderson said. “We gave up two hits, what we do have to do is quit walking people.”

Meanwhile, the Salukis were getting on base, but failed to score through six innings. They outhit the Panthers 12 to two.

SIU tied the game in the seventh inning when senior shortstop Jake Welch started the inning with a bunt single and advanced to second on a failed pickoff attempt by senior pitcher Joe Greenfield. Freshman third baseman Ryan Sabo hit a single to move Welch to third and senior first baseman Cody Daily had a sacrifice fly to score Welch and tie the game 1-1.


Welch had two errors in the eighth to give EIU two men on base with one out. Freshman pitcher Kyle Pauly entered the game and retired the next two batters to get out of the jam.

Pauly stayed in for the ninth and earned two quick outs, but gave up a 2-1 lead on a walk and a single. Senior Lee Weld relieved Pauly and closed out the inning.

Senior infielder Ryan Rosthenhausler started the bottom of the ninth with a single, then Welch had a sacrifice bunt to advance Rosthenhausler to second. Sabo grounded out to advance Rosthenhausler to third. Senior Matt Jones was down to his final strike when he hit a single to right field to drive Rosthenhausler in to tie the game at two.

“I wasn’t trying to hit a ball out of the yard because it’s so windy today,” Jones said. “You can’t really do that.”

Jones said he did not hit the ball well and first base coach Joe Lincoln joked with him by saying he thought it was going to be a home run.

Daily got his third hit of the day down the left field line right after Jones singled. Jones said he saw Henderson waving him in when he rounded second and he was running as hard as he could.

“When I saw him going, I was like ‘you’re crazy coach, you have a catcher running right now; but it worked out so it’s pretty exciting,” Jones said.

He said speed is not his best tool as a baseball player.

“Being a catcher, I don’t have great wheels,” he said. “I kind of blacked out when I was rounding third, but I just wanted to win so bad.”

Henderson said he sent Jones because the team would keep playing regardless of the outcome at the plate.

“It’s a no brainer,” Henderson said. “With two outs, you have to send him when the ball gets in the corner. I know how well that guy throws, and he doesn’t throw very well. If it’s one of their other two outfielders we probably don’t score.”

Jones scored to give Weld his first win of the season, and the Salukis their first walk-off win of the year.

Daily finished the day 3 for 3 with two RBIs, which included the game winner.

“We’re starting to get a lot more fans to our games and it’s starting to pump us up a little bit,” Daily said.

The Salukis play Purdue University in a three game series this weekend at Itchy Jones Stadium.