After the SIU men’s baseball team’s offense struggled in its previous four games, the Salukis outscored the Gamecocks 24-10 in two games during the team’s weekend series against Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Ala.
The Salukis had 17 hits in two games against Jacksonville State and won the two games 12-6 and 12-4. SIU previously struggled with offensive production, and coach Ken Henderson said he was pleased with how well the Salukis performed during the weekend.
“To finish the first game the way we did and then come out and have 17 hits in the second game was great,” he said. “There weren’t a lot of cheap hits, either. They were good at bats and balls that were hit well.”
SIU sophomore pitcher Sam Coonrod started the series against Jacksonville State pitcher junior Adam Polk. The Salukis started scoring early when they scored six consecutive runs in three innings. The first run came in the second inning, when junior first baseman Ryan Casillas hit a home run to left field to lead by one. Later in the inning, junior Donny Duschinsky scored on an error by the Gamecocks to lead by two.
The fourth inning brought in three more Saluki runs to increase the team’s lead to five. Senior center fielder Rennie Troggio and senior second baseman Jake Welch started the runs when they scored off of a double to right field by junior catcher Matt Jones to go ahead of the Gamecocks 6-1.
SIU capped the game with a four-run surge in the top of the ninth inning. Junior outfielder Austin Montgomery scored the first run of the inning when Troggio hit a pop fly to center field. Jones hit a double down the left field line to score senior designated hitter Brock Harding, junior shortstop Ryan Rosthenhausler and Jake Welch.
Coonrod pitched four innings Friday. He walked six batters and allowed only one hit and two runs in his second start of the year. Junior pitcher Brad Dust relieved Coonrod and won the game to improve his record to 2-0 on the season.
The Salukis scored 12 runs during Saturday’s game to beat the Gamecocks 12-4. SIU’s offensive production was balanced by outstanding pitching. Senior pitcher Cody Forsythe won his first game of the season Saturday. In six innings, Forsythe allowed six hits, three runs and struck out five batters in six innings.
The Salukis continued it’s scoring streak all the way up to the sixth inning. SIU scored eight runs in five innings, which is more than if scored in the first three games of the season. Freshman Anthony Shimkus relieved Forsythe during the seventh inning in his second appearance of the season. Shimkus allowed three hits in one inning, and he allowed only one run.
The Salukis finished Saturday’s game with another ninth-inning scoring marathon. Rosthenhausler first singled to left field, which allowed Troggio to score. The second run came when Jones hit a fly out to center field and Welch scored. The game’s final run came when Montgomery hit a single through the middle to score Rosthenhausler and take the game 12-4.
Henderson said he was pleased with his team’s performance, especially after early-season struggles.
“Both games here so far we’ve looked like the hitters that we’re capable of being,” he said. “Credit coach Strain and coach Judkins. Those guys worked extremely hard this week, along with our players making adjustments and working on things, so they deserve a lot of credit because we’ve looked like a different ball club so far this weekend.”
The Salukis will conclude their southern road trip Tuesday when they travel to Austin Peay State University to face the Governors at 3 p.m.