CARBONDALE, Ill. – Southern Illinois completed a three-game sweep of Eastern Kentucky with a 4-1 victory Saturday afternoon at Abe Martin Field. The Salukis (12-14) recorded their third three-game winning streak of the year and improved to 5-0 all-time against EKU (5-18).
“It’s always tough to beat a team three days in a row,” Left fielder Wes Neece said. “(EKU) played hard just like we did, and they battled. It could’ve easily been the other way around if some things didn’t go our way.”
Neece once again played a big part in SIU’s victory as he lined an RBI single over a drawn in infield to break a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the sixth inning. His hit scored Donny Duschinsky, who led off the inning with a single.
In the three-game series, Neece drove in four runs and scored three more runs, including the game-winner in the 10th inning of Friday’s ballgame. The senior was 0-for-4 on the season entering the series.
“I’ve been hanging in there rooting everyone on, and they threw me in there,” Neece said. “I was just hoping to help the team out, and we won three games, so good news.”
On Saturday, Anthony Shimkus pitched a scoreless sixth and seven innings in relief to earn the win and improve his record to 2-0. After allowing a leadoff double in the sixth, he retired the next six hitters in order.
The rest of the bullpen was just as impressive. Aaron Snyder threw a scoreless eighth, and Todd Eaton pitched a perfect ninth. He ended the game with a strikeout to record his fourth save of the season.
“Our bullpen was great today,” SIU Coach Ken Henderson said. “Shimkus was good. He got in a jam there and worked his way out of it. And Snyder and Todd were awfully good, as they have been most of the year.”
Southern added a pair of insurance runs in the eighth inning to pad the lead to 4-1. With two outs, Neece drew a walk and then scored when pinch hitter Austin Montgomery doubled to the warning track in left field. It would have been a difficult play for left fielder Demetrius Moorer to make, and he had no chance when he slipped and fell on his first step.
Montgomery scored when Ryan Rosthenhausler followed with a single to left. It was the only inning in which the Salukis plated multiple runs after leaving a runner at third base in five of the first six innings.
Eastern Kentucky’s Shane Grimm took the loss. He surrendered four runs off eight hits and struck out five in seven and two-thirds of an inning. One of the runs against him was unearned.
SIU starter Derek Fogel went home with his fifth consecutive no-decision. He battled through five innings, holding the Colonels to one run off five hits. The junior tossed four scoreless innings before EKU tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the fifth on Demitrius Moorer’s sacrifice fly.
“I appreciate his effort today because he wasn’t himself today, but he gutted it out and gave us five innings,” Henderson said. “Some days you just don’t have your best stuff, but to gut it out and do that without your best stuff, that’s a good effort.”
Southern Illinois will try to extend its winning streak to four games in the final game of the homestand on Tuesday against Murray State.