PEORIA — Down five runs in the ninth, SIU rallied for six runs to steal an 8-7 win and finish a three-game sweep of Bradley on Sunday afternoon at Dozer Park.
The Braves (16-28, 2-16 MVC) had a 7-0 lead in the fourth inning and a 7-2 lead in the ninth but could not put away the Salukis (24-27, 6-12 MVC).
SIU hit four doubles and a home run in the improbable ninth inning. Cody Daily’s two-out, two-run double to right-center field scored pinch runners Rennie Troggio and Tanner Renner to give SIU its first lead of the game. The game-winning hit came off of reliever Patrick Flanagan, the second of three pitchers used by Bradley in the ninth.
“After not being able to get a clutch hit all year, we got a year’s worth in one inning today,” SIU coach Ken Henderson said with a smile. “It was just a great team effort. Everybody stepped in and filled their role.”
Wes Neece and Matt Jones each hit RBI doubles earlier in the inning to set up the game-winner. Brock Harding started the ninth inning explosion with a pinch-hit double, which Derek Trovillion followed with a two-run, pinch-hit homer, the first of his Saluki career.
“I was just trying to extend the inning,” Trovillion said. “I got a pitch up in the zone, put a good swing on it, and it found the barrel.”
Todd Eaton then pitched a scoreless ninth inning to preserve the win for his ninth save of the season. Eaton pitched around two infield singles and had runners at first and third base with one out in the inning. None of the five batters he faced in the inning hit the ball out of the infield.
“He’s been good for us all year,” Henderson said. “We know he’s not going to get rattled in that situation, and he made quality pitches.”
Jacob Williams threw a scoreless seventh and eighth inning to earn his first collegiate win.
“I’ll never forget this one,” Williams said. “To get the first win, and the fashion that it happened, it’s one heck of a way to do it.”
The ninth inning heroics erased what had been at times an ugly afternoon of baseball. SIU committed four errors, and Bradley committed two. The two teams combined to strand 24 runners.
With the completion of its first conference series sweep of the year, SIU will face Saint Louis on Tuesday in Sauget before heading home to complete the regular season with a three-game series against conference-leading Illinois State.
“The whole goal was to come here, play a little better and get some momentum and some confidence,” Henderson said. “Hopefully we did that, and now we need to build on that.”