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Jones' scoreless streak halted
SIUE rallies to beat Kentucky Wesleyan
BY ROD KLOECKNER
EDWARDSVILLE - It was over in a blink.
A leadoff single by Kentucky Wesleyan's Jordan Bonyai, a groundout and an RBI double by Dusty Stevens in the top of the first inning brought Southern Illinois University Edwardsville's Kyle Jones' remarkable pitching streak to a close Saturday.
"That was quick, wasn't it?" Jones joked after SIUE rallied for a 2-1, nine-inning victory over Kentucky Wesleyan at Roy E. Lee Field.
It was the first run allowed by Jones in 54 1/3 innings this season, a streak that established a NCAA Division II record and came within five innings of the longest documented scoreless innings streak in baseball at any level.
And all it took was three batters for it to end.
"I really wasn't upset when it happened," said Jones, a 2002 graduate of Wesclin High. "It wasn't like I got down about it. It's baseball and I'm a realist. It's just part of the game. Teams are going to score. I can't believe I lasted as long as I did."
With a sizable gathering of friends and family watching from the stands and beyond the left-field fence, Jones took the mound more nervous than he's ever been.
"There was just a lot of pressure before the game," Jones said. "There was more pressure probably than any game I have ever started, and I've played in the playoffs before."
Jones allowed an opposite-field single to Bonyai, then got Jon Troutman to ground back to him for the first out with Bonyai advancing to second.
Stevens lofted a fly ball into the gap in left-center that fell in front of Ryan Czyz for a double. Bonyai scored without a throw as the Panthers' dugout erupted in celebration.
"We knew he was dominating Division II and was a really good pitcher," Bonyai said. "We came into the game looking to break that streak and give him his first loss, also. We were trying to get in his head a little bit. We didn't do that too well."
Jones settled in about Stevens' double. He set down the next two Panthers in order, striking out six in a row at one point.
"He was a little amped up at the start," said SIUE coach Gary Collins. "Obviously, he was feeling it. He was forcing the ball a little bit and making bad pitches. Once he got that over with, he pitched a lot better.
"We knew it was going to end. It was just a matter of when. We were hoping it wouldn't, but fortunately, it ended in a game we won."
Jones struck out 10, walked one and allowed five hits before he was lifted after the seventh with the score tied 1-1. Jones (8-0) got his first no-decision of the season and now has an ERA of 0.15.
"I'm not happy I gave up a run -- pitchers never are -- but overall, I'm glad it's over with," Jones said. "Now, I can get back to my normal routine. It was starting to take over my personal life and I'm just glad we won the game."
SIUE won in the bottom of the ninth on a pinch-hit single by Nathan Doty with the bases loaded. The Cougars improved to 29-12-1 overall and 22-11-1 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.
The Cougars don't have a powerful offense -- they are hitting .246 as a team and rank in the bottom half of the GLVC in runs scored -- but they keep finding ways to win.
"We've missed opportunities all year, but we just refuse to lose," Collins said. "I'm starting to believe in this team a little bit. We're not very good offensively, but we are hard to beat."
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