Wednesday, May 25, 2011 | Baseball
Baseball Championship: Southern Illinois 5, Bradley 1
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Nick Johnson, Southern Illinois

No. 5 SOUTHERN ILLINOIS 5, No. 8 BRADLEY 1
SIU (23-33); BU (22-32)

OMAHA, Neb. - Junior pitcher Cameron Maldonado threw a complete game to lead the Southern Illinois baseball team to a 5-1 win over Bradley on Wednesday at TD Ameritrade Park in an elimination game in the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.

Maldonado's complete game is the first by a Saluki in the Valley Tournament since Bryan Rueger threw an eight-inning complete game in a 5-4 loss to Indiana State on May 27, 2005.

The Salukis (23-33) now move on to face the loser of Wednesday night's game between Creighton and Missouri State. SIU's second-straight elimination game is scheduled for Thursday at 12:30 p.m.

Maldonado (5-7) dominated the Braves Wednesday, but that wasn't the case earlier this month. On May 6 at Bradley, the Braves roughed him up for eight runs off of eight hits in a 9-0 loss. He came back Wednesday and possessed great command, not walking a single batter, which he said was one of his keys to success.

Maldonado had five strikeouts in the game and all five were used to end an inning. He scattered eight hits and allowed just the one run.

The Salukis had 10 hits in the game and they were spread out across the order, as seven of the nine batters in the lineup had a hit. Austin Montgomery, Wes Neece and Brian Bajer all had two hits and Bajer extended his hitting streak to 10 games. He is now 5-for-8 in the tournament.
 
Sophomore Nick Johnson delivered the big blow early in the game with a bases loaded double that plated three runs. Bradley committed two costly errors in Southern's four-run third inning and only one of SIU's five runs in the game were earned.

Southern Illinois got back-to-back doubles from Neece and Montgomery in the top of the first to jump out to a 1-0 lead.

Maldonado was working through the Braves lineup and had given up four hits in the first five innings.

It wasn't until the eighth inning that Maldonado gave up an extra base hit and it came on his 99th pitch of the game. Bradley was able to score a run off of Rob Anderson's double, as Brad Kimball brought him home on a sacrifice fly.

However, the Braves couldn't group any more hits together and Maldonado closed out the ninth throwing 118 pitches in his first complete game of the season.