Eighth inning heroics lead SIU to win
Saluki freshman Tyler Dray earns first career victory in relief
Carbondale, Ill.- The Southern Illinois Salukis won the series-opener against the Dallas Baptist Patriots, 7-4, on Thursday evening following a four-run eighth inning to overcome a one-run deficit. After coming on in the eighth, Chris Haney, who came into the game with six saves and a 1.69 ERA, picked up the loss for the Patriots in one inning of work, giving up two runs on two hits.
After giving up the lead in the top of the eighth, Wes Neece and Jordan Sivertsen delivered for the Salukis with back-to-back two-run singles to give Southern Illinois (6-15) the victory.
"Those two hits are as clutch of hits as we've had all year," assistant coach Ryan Strain said. "We've kind of struggled being able to get hits with runners in scoring position and for those two guys to come up with hits back-to-back like that, that was huge."
Neece finished with his first career three-hit game and he also scored three times. Sivertsen only had one hit, but it was a huge one that gave him his 16th and 17th RBIs of the season.
"I took the first pitch outside and then I knew that basically he was going to have to come after me," Neece said. "I tried to square up the pitch and was able to drive two runs in. We're definitely starting to come together as a team with our pitching and hitting starting to line up and hopefully some more wins will start to pile up."
Saluki freshman Tyler Dray picked up his first career victory, throwing two innings in his ninth relief appearance of the season.
After a pair of singles and a walk loaded the bases for the Salukis in the bottom of the first, Nick Johnson (2-for-3, two RBIs and a run scored) gave Southern Illinois a 1-0 lead with a sacrifice fly to left center.
Another sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fourth scored the second run of the day for the Salukis, giving them a two-run lead.
Jason Krizan evened the game for the Patriots at two runs apiece in the fifth, when he sent a 1-0 pitch over the right field wall. Krizan's second homerun of the year scored Tyler Robbins who had reached on a single earlier in the inning.
The Salukis responded with a run in the fifth to retake the lead at 3-2.
After two scoreless innings, the final two runs for DBU came in the eighth. A leadoff triple by Joel Hutter resulted in the first run of the inning when Duncan McAlpine delivered a sacrifice fly.
Kenny Hatcher then reached second on a Southern Illinois error and advanced to third on a wild pitch. With the game tied and a runner on third, Landon Anderson laid down a perfect bunt to score Hatcher, giving the Patriots a 4-3 advantage.