Salukis' Late-Inning Heroics End Bears' Win Streak at Seven
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Southern Illinois overcame early deficits in both ends of Friday's doubleheader with the Missouri State softball team, claiming a 4-3 victory in game one and a 5-3 decision in the nightcap to record the sweep and run its win streak in the series with the Bears to eight games.
The Salukis trailed by two runs in the opener before rallying for the victory, then fell behind 3-0 in the second game, only to edge past the Bears once again in their final at-bat with a two-run sixth inning, highlighted by yet another critical long ball. The difference proved to be Southern Illinois' ability to come through at the plate in the late innings, as the Salukis scored six of their nine runs after the fifth inning.
Mallory Duran capped a huge opening-game performance with a walk-off home run to lead off the bottom of the eighth inning to hand SIU the come-from-behind win that halted Missouri State's longest win streak in five years at seven games.
Danielle Glosson also played a pivotal role for SIU in game two, shutting down the Bears on just one hit over 6 2/3 innings of outstanding relief to earn victory number 20 on the season.
In game one, both starting pitchers came out firing goose eggs, as both Natalie Rose and Glosson cruised through the first three innings without allowing a single hit. After working through a touch of wildness that resulted in a pair of walks in the first inning, Glosson settled into a groove to retire nine straight batters before Ashley Knehans' one-out single in the fourth gave the Bears their first hit of the day.
Rose was equally impressive, setting down the first nine Saluki hitters of the game. Duran would finally give SIU its first baserunner with the first of her three hits in the game to start the fourth.
The Bears would draw first blood by plating a pair of runs in the top of the fifth, as Madison Hargrove delivered a one-out single to center to start the rally. Christa Gammon came through with a triple into the gap in left-center to put MSU on the board, and Kirstin Cutter drove her in with a grounder to second to make it a 2-0 ball game.
Southern Illinois finally broke through against Rose in the bottom of the sixth, as Taylor Orsburn's two-out, two-run double capped a three-run inning and handed the Salukis a 3-2 advantage. Duran started the rally with a bunt single for the first of three straight infield hits for SIU. Cristina Trapani produced the first Saluki run with a ground ball to second, before Orsburn lined an 0-2 pitch over the head of Tyler Porter in center to chase home Morgan Barchan and Haley Gorman and give the home team the lead.
Missouri State bounced back to even the score in the top of the seventh, as Ashley Brentz singled to lead off the frame and came home on Savannah Wiggins' single to shallow center. The Bears would miss out on a chance to reclaim the lead when SIU's Alex Peters stranded MSU runners at second and third by getting Jenna Schwark to ground to short and Knehans on strikes.
That would represent the Bears' last real chance in the contest, as Peters (10-4) turned in a 1-2-3 eighth to set the stage for Duran's game-winning shot.
MSU got on the board first once again in the second game, scoring three times in the top of the first inning. Porter drew a one-out walk from Peters, and beat third baseman Natalee Weissinger's throw to second on a Schwark grounder to set up the Bears' first scoring opportunity of the contest.
Knehans singled to center to drive in Porter, and Schwark scored when Chelsea Held's throw from center was wild. Wiggins completed the scoring with her second RBI hit of the day, bringing in pinch runner Kerri Cunningham to make it a 3-0 game.
That would prove to be Missouri State's last hurrah, as Glosson came on in relief and promptly retired the first 12 batters she faced to give the Salukis ample time to cut into the MSU lead.
The Salukis would chip away with single tallies in each of the first three innings, finally pulling even in the third on a passed ball that allowed Haley Gorman to cross the plate.
For the second straight game, SIU took the lead for good courtesy of a game-changing home run. Leading off the bottom of the sixth, Gorman belted a Rose offering down the right field line just inside the foul pole to give the Salukis their first lead of the game. They would tack on another run, when Trapani singled and moved over to second on a fielding error, then came home on another key hit from Orsburn that made it a 5-3 game.
Glosson (20-8), who struck-out nine and allowed only two runs in 12 innings over the two outings, wouldn't need any more support, as the SIU senior would retire the Bears in order in the seventh to wrap up the doubleheader sweep.
Rose (16-16), who suffered both losses in the circle, saw her personal six-game win streak come to an end. The junior righty fanned five while allowing all four runs in a complete-game effort in the first game before pitching the final five innings of the second contest.
Duran would score three times and drive in a run while going 4-for-7 on the day to lead the Saluki attack.
Wiggins provided one of the few offensive bright spots for the Bears, who totaled just three hits in the second game. The freshman finished the day 2-for-3 with a pair of run-scoring hits.
The Bears (22-19, 10-8 MVC) will close out the series with Southern Illinois (31-13, 13-3 MVC) Saturday (April 23) when the two clubs square off in a single game at noon.