Saturday Baseball Recaps: SIU's Callahan Earns 200th MVC Victory
Sunday, April 4, 2010

In Saturday MVC baseball action, Southern Illinois took out Bradley, handing Saluki head coach Dan Callahan his 200th career MVC victory.  Callahan is just the fifth coach in league history to earn this honor, joining active coaches Gene Stephenson (WSU) and Keith Guttin (MSU), as well as retired skippers Bob Warn (INS) and Dewey Kalmer (BU).  In other action, Wichita State evened the series with Evansville, while Indiana State took the second straight game over Creighton.

In non-conference action on Saturday, Missouri State topped Oral Roberts 5-1, while Illinois State dropped a pair of doubleheader games at Lipscomb.

SIU (13-14, 3-2 MVC); BU (6-15, 0-5 MVC)

Senior right-handed pitcher Nathan Forer did not allow an earned run in eight innings of work as he led the Southern Illinois baseball team to a 3-1 win over Bradley on Saturday at Abe Martin Field.

The win gives head coach Dan Callahan his 200th career Missouri Conference Victory and he becomes just the fifth coach in league history to reach the milestone. SIU (13-14, 3-2 MVC) has now won four-straight games and will look to sweep the Braves (6-15, 0-5) in Sunday's series finale at 1 p.m.

Forer (1-1) only gave up six hits in his eight masterful innings on the mound and he had four strikeouts and two walks. In three starts now, Forer has only allowed one earned run to come home and his ERA now stands at a microscopic 0.74.

Freshman pitcher Lee Weld threw a scoreless ninth inning to record the first save of his career.

Bradley's Joe Bircher (1-3) was the victim in Saturday's pitchers dual. He threw the entire game and allowed seven hits, but gave up a costly homer in the eight that drew the loss for himself and the Braves.

Southern Illinois hadn't scored until the sixth inning when they tied the game at one, but came through with some eighth-inning heroics for the second day in a row to get the win.

Junior second baseman Blake Pinnongave the Salukis the 2-1 lead with his solo home run that came with two outs in that eighth inning. Before that at-bat Pinnon had just two hits in his previous 22, but he cranked his sixth homer to left against a stiff wind that was blowing from right to left. It was his only hit on the day.

Center fielder Chris Murphy was the only Saluki with two hits and he scored a run on Chirs Serritella's double in the sixth that tied the game. Freshman catcher Austin Montgomery added an insurance run with his RBI single after Pinnon's homer.

Bradley was the first to score Saturday, as they plated an unearned run in the top of the fourth. With one out and runners on second and third, Brad Kimball hit a grounder to third and Tony Lepore threw home attempting to get Matt Fritz out. Montgomery was unable to handle the throw at the plate, allowing the Bradley run.

The Braves threatened to extend their lead in the fifth, when they got a leadoff single and then two straight walks from Forer loaded the bases. The Saluki senior showed his resolve and after a strikeout, Forer got Fritz to ground out into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.

The sixth inning mirrored the fifth, as Bradley had runners on first and third with one out. Forer and the Saluki defense once again kept BU from capitalizing, and Jason Leblebijian ended the inning by grounding into the second double play of the game.

SIU's pitching and defense built a little momentum for the offense, and they responded to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth. After a leadoff single from Murphy and a sacrifice from Pinnon that moved him to second, Serritella's opposite field double brought Murphy home for SIU's first run of the game.

After a scoreless seventh, Pinnon gave Southern Illinois its first lead of the game with his two-out solo home run to left.

That homer rattled Bircher, who then walked the next two batters. Montgomery then came up and hit a pop fly to right field, but the wind blew the ball to shallow right center and it dropped, allowing Serritella to score from second for an insurance run.

That proved to be more than enough, as Weld came in to get the save and the game ended in the third ground-ball double play turned by the Salukis.

WSU (16-9, 4-1 MVC); UE (13-14, 3-2 MVC)

Wichita State held on to defeat Evansville 9-8 in game two of a three-game series.

Will Baez went 2-for-4 with two RBI and a home run, while Ryan Jones went 2-for-5 with two RBI.  Preston Springer also drove in two runs, while Clint McKeever and Chris O'Brien added two hits each.

Starter Tim Kelley earned the win going seven innings and giving up four runs on 10 hits.  Grant Muncrief earned his first save of the season.

Preston Springer and Travis Bennett led off the second inning with back-to-back walks for the Shockers.  A wild pitch advanced them both into scoring position and an error by UE gave WSU a 1-0 lead.  A single by Chris O'Brien scored Bennett to put the Shocks in front 2-0.

The Aces answered with a run in the bottom of the second.  Trentt Copeland led off with a single and stole second and came around to score on a single by Nate Smith.  Chris O'Brien threw out Smith trying to steal second and Tim Kelley struck out the final two batters of the inning to preserve the 2-1 lead.

The Shockers tacked on two more in the third.  Tyler Grimes reached on a one-out walk and scored on Ryan Jones' triple to right centerfield.  A sacrifice fly by Springer put the Shockers in front 4-1.

The Aces cut the lead to 4-2 with a run in the third, but the Shockers responded with one in the fourth to make the score 5-2.  UE added two more in the fourth for a 5-4 score.

Will Baez hit his first home run of the season in the sixth and Ryan Jones singled in Tyler Grimes to add on another run for a 7-4 advantage.  Springer added a solo home run in the eighth to make the score 8-4, but the Aces would answer.

The first five hitters of the eighth inning all reached base off Shocker reliever Justin Kemp.  With three runs already in and runners at first and third with no outs, Greg Wallace was caught stealing second base.  Grant Muncrief then came in the game and needed just two pitches to retire the next two batters on a line out to third and a fly ball to right field to preserve the 8-7 lead.

Clint McKeever led off the ninth with a double to left center and scored on a single up the middle by Kevin Hall to give the Shockers an important insurance run at 9-7.

UE led off the ninth with back-to-back singles, but Muncrief struck out Ryan Oesterle when he bunted foul with two strikes.  Pinch hitter Shawn Kuester then singled through the right side to drive in Nate Smith, but Alex Acheson grounded into a double play to end the game.

The Shockers and Aces finish the three-game series on Sun., April 4 at 1 p.m.


INS (17-7, 3-2 MVC); CU (12-8, 2-3 MVC)

OMAHA, Neb. -
Senior Ryan Strausborger wasn't selected to the Preseason All-Missouri Valley Conference team for no reason. The senior outfielder for the Indiana State University baseball team tallied a pair of key hits and a stellar defensive play to give Indiana State a series win over the host Creighton University Bluejays at Rosenblatt Stadium in front of 806 fans.

With the Sycamores (17-7, 3-2 MVC) trailing by two runs in the top of the eighth, Strausborger, with freshman Jeremy Lucas on first base, crushed a pitch from Creighton starting pitcher Brandon Koenigstein into the left field stands to knot the game at 3-3.

Strausborger also put on a show defensively in center field to assist ISU in securing the win on Saturday night. With the game tied in the bottom of the ninth, Creighton was able to place runners on the corners with their cleanup batter T.J. Roemmich at the plate. Against ISU closer Tyler Browning, Roemmich drove a pitch deep into center field in what seemed like a winning hit off the bat, but Strausborger had other ideas. The senior outfielder turned and raced towards the center field wall, beating the ball to the spot just before the warning track to close out the Bluejay rally in the ninth.

After making the stellar catch in the ninth, Strausborger got the winning rally started in the tenth inning with a leadoff single through the middle of the infield. Sophomore Kyle Burnam followed with a walk before senior Tyler Graham moved both runners up a base with a sacrifice bunt. Senior Luke Fieser drew an intentional walk to load the bases before freshman Robby Ort drove in his team-leading 23rd and 24th RBIs of the season with a single through the middle of the infield to put ISU in front 5-3.

Browning (1-1) picked up his first collegiate victory on Saturday by tossing the final 1.1 innings. Junior JT Stenftenagel and senior Scott Harlan joined Browning in relief on Saturday, as the trio combined to limit Creighton to just four hits and no runs over the final 5.1 innings of the game.

Just as they did on Friday night, the Sycamores jumped out to an early lead on Saturday, plating a single run in the top of the first inning. With one down in the first, Burnam cracked a double into the gap in left-center field for the first ISU hit. Burnam would cross the plate when Graham came to the plate next and matched Burnam's double with one of his own, hitting his down the right field line to put ISU in front 1-0.

Creighton battled back, however, to tie the game and eventually take the lead with single runs in the bottom of the first, fourth and fifth innings. But the Bluejays could not add to their lead at any other point in the game, as the Sycamores plated two runs in the eighth on Strausborger's home run to tie the game and two runs on Ort's single to win it.

The Sycamores will look for the series sweep on Sunday, when the teams meet at the CU Sports Complex at 2:00 p.m. ET. Junior Jason Van Skike (3-0, 4.11 ERA) will take the mound for the Sycamores with Creighton sending freshman Ty Blach (0-0, 2.33 ERA) in opposition.

Saturday Non-Conference Scores from Around the Valley:
Missouri State 5, Oral Roberts 1
Lipscomb 8, Illinois State 1
Lipscomb 9, Illinois State 8 (10 Innings)