CARBONDALE — In a split second, SIU’s Friday doubleheader with Indiana State morphed from a Friday the 13th nightmare to a postgame celebration.
After falling 5-2 to the Sycamores in the first game, SIU trailed 2-1 with two outs in the seventh inning. Katelyn Massa, who leads SIU with 39 RBI, turned on a low, inside pitch, doubling down the left field line.
Maris Boelens and Susie Baranski both scored easily, giving SIU a 3-2 victory. The Salukis have a chance to win the series tomorrow. The single game starts at noon.
“The previous at bats I asked people what they had seen,” Massa said. “We had already seen her (Indiana State reliever Della Gher) once, but you never know if she was changing up what she was doing. I was making sure the ball was still going to be low or she wasn’t doing anything crazy. I knew it was going to be low. It just so happened it was low and in and I heard somebody say ‘Turn on it.’ That really helped me.”
Massa slashed the ball past third baseman Shaye Barton, but it wasn’t clear the ball would stay fair.
“I really didn’t know if it was because I was running,” Massa said. “Until Gonzo (first base coach Kelsey Gonzalez) was going, ‘Go to two, two, two.’ Then I was like, ‘Oh gosh it was a fair ball. I was just running.”
Massa drove in all three runs, chasing Boelens home with a sacrifice fly in the third.
SIU appeared to run into the final out of the inning two pitches before Massa’s big hit. Boelens singled with one out and ran to third on Susie Baranski’s hit to center. The throw to third clearly beat Boelens, but the umpire ruled obstruction on Barton.
“He called obstruction,” Blaylock said. “It’s an emphasis this year that the baserunner has to be allowed to get to the base. There is no more sitting on top of base, no more sitting on top of the plate. None of that. Honestly, in the spirit of the rule, he called it the right way. Sometimes that’s what you need, a break.”
The seventh inning rally made a winner of Brianna Jones, who relieved Dover in the seventh. Dover yielded just two runs on six hits through six innings.
“The pitching performance by Dover was as good as she’s had all year,” said SIU coach Kerri Blaylock. “That really gave us a chance. Now you hope when you win one like this it gives you momentum going forward.”
The late heroics made the split more palatable for Blaylock.
“Well, it’s not acceptable because I hate losing, but for our club to do what they did, I’m really proud of them,” she said. “Some teams just lay down and die. I’m not that way. Their coach isn’t that way, so hopefully they feed off that.”
In the first game, the Sycamores had nine hits in the 5-2 defeat. Jones had some Friday the 13th luck as Indiana State had several flares find the outfield grass while the Salukis made three errors behind her.
The Sycamores scored single runs in the first, third and fourth innings and added a pair in the fifth.
In the first, Bailey Martin singled to left, stole second and went to third when Katelyn Massa’s throw to second struck the bag, then caromed off second baseman Maddy Vermejan’s face. Martin scored on Bella Peterson’s infield hit.
Vermejan returned for the second game.
Indiana State scored in similar fashion in the third when Becky Malchow singled, moved to third on a pair of ground outs, then scored on Shaye Barton’s flare to left.
In the meantime, the Salukis scored in the second and seventh innings.
Kyleigh Decker doubled with one out in the second and raced all the way home when Megan Brown was retired on a squibber to first base.
The Salukis did bring the tying run to the plate in the seventh when Sydney Jones drew a leadoff walk, Decker was hit by a pitch and Brown also walked. Haley Andrus pinch hit for Savannah Fisher and grounded into a double play. SIU’s second run scored on the play.
“We didn’t practice really well Thursday,” Blaylock said. “I kind of warned them that when you don’t practice well and you play a team that is able to put the ball in play and run and create a little bit of havoc. I think the universe got us in that first game and jolted us to reality.”