A seven-run rally by Southern Illinois in the bottom of the eighth inning led the Salukis past Northern Illinois to defeat the Huskies, 8-3.
“We had a chance to create some separation for ourselves with the lead during the game,” said head coach Ed Mathey. “We worked the count at the plate and we carried a lead into the eighth inning. We allowed a couple of walks and a single to score SIU’s first run really created some momentum. We could not end the inning unfortunately and that cost us.
“That being said, we played good baseball and Jordan (Ruckman) put his team in a good position to win the ball game. We executed in some hit and run situations and that helped us gain the advantage early. We played clean defensively for most of the game and but some late errors really cost us. We have to put this behind us and move forward tomorrow.”
The Huskies scored the first run of the game in the third inning when designated hitter Chris Divarco (Long Grove/Carmel Catholic) drove in Nate Ruzich (Joliet/South Suburban College), who led the inning with a walk to give NIU a 1-0 lead.
Northern Illinois added another run in the sixth inning when Alex Klonowski (Kearney, Mo./Kearney), who reached base on an infield single to the shortstop, crossed home plate on a pair of wild pitches. The Huskies third and final run came one inning later on a single by Jamison Wells (Combined Locks, Wis./Kimberly) to score Tommy Hook (Lockport/Lockport Township). Northern Illinois ended the seventh with 3-0 lead.
Starting pitcher Jordan Ruckman (Kankakee/Herscher) hurled a career-high 6.2 innings, scattering five hits and surrendering only one run in the effort. Jordan also struck out one batter and walked two to earn a no decision.
Southern Illinois scratched seven runs across the plate in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Salukis a final 8-3 lead.
Both Wells and Klonowski finished 2-for-4 at the plate to lead the Huskies, with Wells adding an RBI to his credit. Wells also had a stolen base in the contest, his fourth of the season, putting him just four steals shy of setting the all-time record at Northern Illinois.
Due to anticipated rain in Carbondale Sunday, the Huskies and the Salukis will play a doubleheader torday, starting at 11 a.m. NIU will then have an extra days rest before taking on Murray State Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon.