News From Terre Haute, Indiana


May 20, 2014

MVC Tournament: SIU's Coonrod sets down top-seeded Evansville

Salukis upset Purple Aces in MVC tourney opener

TERRE HAUTE — Southern Illinois starting pitcher Sam Coonrod was overdue for some good fortune. The Salukis' ace had a 3.04 ERA entering SIU's Tuesday Missouri Valley Conference Tournament opener against Evansville, but due partly to lack of run support, his overall record was just 1-6.

Coonrod finally felt the rub of the green against the top-seeded Purple Aces. He held Evansville to a single run, while the SIU offense gave him cushion against the most unlikely foe.

No. 8-seeded SIU defeated Evansville 9-1, beating highly-touted Kyle Freeland in the process. The Salukis advanced to Wednesday's 4 p.m. winner's bracket game against Illinois State. The Aces face a do-or-die contest against Wichita State at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Coonrod didn't seem destined for his second victory of the season. The junior had five walks in the first three innings of the contest and finished with seven overall. Despite that, Coonrod limited big damage by preventing Evansville from getting any big hits.

"It felt great to have the lead. I knew once we had four runs, we were going to win," Coonrod said. "The run support was great. When you have it, you can challenge batters and say, 'Here it comes.'"

Meanwhile, Freeland -- a potential top 10 draft pick who watstruggled by his own standard. He struck out six and gave up five hits, but it was his three walks that stood out. It was a season-high from a pitcher that had just nine walks all season entering the contest.

Freeland struggled, but Evansville's inability to hit Coonrod stuck out more in Evansville coach Wes Carroll's mind.

"Kyle didn't look sharp, he looked a little tired out there, but for us, I think we need to focus on the offense. We had 1st and 2nd with nobody out in two of the first three innings and we banged into two double plays with our big guy. That was a key," Carroll said.

Evansville (34-20) drew first blood on a Jarrod Perry sacrifice fly in the second, but the Salukis (26-29) pulled in front in the fourth thanks to some slight of hand. After a sacrifice fly tied it, a deftly executed double steal helped Matt Jones steal home to put SIU up 2-1.

Freeland's struggles came to a head in the fifth. After Jake Welch and Ryan Casillas singled, Cody Daily knocked them both in with a triple to right to make it 4-1.

Freeland was lifted after five innings. Carroll said there was no injury issue. Freeland had thrown 85 pitches. His removal did not improve the Aces' prospects.

SIU put a five-spot on the board in the seventh, a rally that started innocently enough when Evansville shortstop Shain Showers whiffed on a ground ball. From that point, eight consecutive Salukis reached base. The big blow was a two-run home run to left by Casillas.  

While SIU ponders a long tournament run, Evansville put itself in jeopardy of missing the postseason. Though the Aces won the regular season title, their RPI is in the high 50s. The Aces needed a long tournament run to cement an at-large bid.

"Our team has shown a tremendous amount of character all year. There's no doubt in my mind we'll come to the diamond and play hard," Carroll said. "Each and every time we've gone into a rubber match during weekends, we've responded. I think we'll respond tomorrow."

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (AB-R-H-BI) -- Kopach 2b 5-0-1-0, Welch ss 5-2-2-0, Casillas 1b 4-2-1-2, Daily dh 4-2-2-2, Hand rf 3-1-1-0, Jones c 2-2-0-0, Osborne lf 3-0-1-2, Rosthenhausl 3b 4-0-1-1, Mucha cf 3-0-0-1. TOTALS 33-9-9-8.

EVANSVILLE (AB-R-H-BI) --Jyawook lf 2-0-1-0, Mahon 3b 3-0-2-0, Kaczmarski cf 4-0-0-0, Pollock c 3-0-1-0, Synek 2b 3-1-0-0, McKibban 1b 3-0-1-0, Showers ss 4-0-0-0, Day dh 3-0-0-0, Perry rf 3-0-0-1. TOTALS 28-1-5-1.

Southern Illinois=000=220=500=--=9


E -- Mahon (12), Showers (12). DP -- SIU 3, UE 2. LOB -- SIU 8, UE 8. 2B -- Kopach (4). 3B -- Daily (2). HR -- Casillias (6). S -- Hand (5). SF -- Rosthenhausl (3), Perry (2). SB -- Welch (13). CS -- Osborne (1).

Southern Illinois


Coonrod (W, 2-6)=7 2/3=4=1=1=7=5

Weld=1 1/3=1=0=0=0=1



Freeland (L, 10-2)=5=5=4=4=3=6

Jurecka=1 1/3=2=4=3=2=2


Miller=2 2/3=0=0=0=0=3

WP -- Coonrod (6). HBP -- by Freeland (Jones), by Miller (Hand). T -- 2:36.

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