SIU drops three of four over the weekend
Illinois knocked in five runs off Saluki left-handed starting pitcher Nathan Dorris in the third inning that helped the Illini cruise to a 13-5 victory Sunday against the Salukis in Marion’s Rent One Park.
Dorris (4-1) lasted four-and-a-third innings and took the loss for the Salukis (12-8). Dorris gave up seven runs, six of which were earned on nine hits.
“Nathan wasn’t as sharp today; too many balls in the middle of the plate,” coach Ken Hendersonsaid. “But they have good hitters.”
Illinois freshman right-handed pitcher Josh Ferry (1-0) picked up the win in his first start of the season. He struck out five and walked four over six-and-a-third innings for the Illini (10-7), giving up three earned runs on five hits.
Between the second and fifth inning, Ferry retired 10 consecutive batters. Saluki junior first baseman Chris Serritella broke the streak with a leadoff walk in the bottom of the sixth.
“Today (Ferry) did a good job of just coming right at us,” said Serritella, who went 0-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts. “He pitched really fast and kept us out of our rhythm. He just filled up the strike zone, and we weren’t able to capitalize on his mistakes.”
SIU struck first with an RBI single from sophomore shortstop Jake Welch. He provided two of the Salukis’ eight hits against Illinois, five of which came during the final three innings.
“We were feeling good about our at-bats at the plate,” Welch said. “But we had a few miscues out in the field, let one bad pitch go, and after that we let our confidence go.”
The Illini top of the third started with two errors and a passed ball by the Salukis, and Illini junior third baseman Brandon Hohl smacked a three-run home run to give Illinois a 3-1 lead.
Hohl hit another three-run homer in the top of the eighth. He finished the day 3-for-5 with three runs scored and six driven in.
“Those two home runs that Hohl hit were pitches at the knees. Those pitches were down,” Henderson said. “We made a lot of mistakes today, but those weren’t two of them.”
SIU’s two errors put them at 50 for the season, which is last in the Missouri Valley Conference. The next closest team, Bradley, had 25 errors as of Sunday.
“Every game has been a struggle for us defensively,” Serritella said. “We know it’s going to keep biting us in the butt if we keep (making errors), but we’ve got to find a way to pick it up defensively.”
Sunday’s game capped off a weekend that saw four games in three days for SIU against Illinois and Northern Illinois. The Salukis were 1-3 during the weekend, with the only win coming in a 6-4 victory over NIU in the first game of a double-header Friday.
“Even on (Friday’s win) we got kind of lucky. We came out flat,” Serritella said. “We were able to battle with our offense; we put up six runs. But we just came out flat all weekend.”
SIU was down 4-3 heading into the bottom of the eighth inning Friday against NIU but struck for three runs to give the Salukis the victory. SIU lost Friday’s second game to Illinois 8-2, and NIU got revenge on the Salukis with a 9-4 victory Saturday.
“You’re going to go through little funks, but we’ve got to get it turned around in a hurry because we start conference next week,” Henderson said. “Our kids are still playing hard, they’re still battling, they’re still listening. We just had a bad weekend. It happens.”
SIU will play Eastern Illinois (6-11) Tuesday at 3 p.m. at Abe Martin Field.
Joe Ragusa can be reached at email@example.com or 536-3311 ext. 269