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Daily Egyptian

Salukis back to winning ways in 9-0 defeat of ULM

By Denton Giovenco

The Saluki baseball team came into game two of a three game series against the University of Louisiana Monroe, looking to turn things around.

After beginning the season with a three-game series sweep of Stetson University, where the Salukis (4-2) tallied 22 total runs, the offense cooled off to the tune of six total runs in the last two games, which both ended in Saluki losses.

It didn’t take long for the Salukis to find their offensive stride Saturday against ULM junior starting pitcher Keegan Curtis.

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Taking the mound for the second time this season following a rough outing against Dallas Baptist, Curtis started off by giving up an infield single to SIU junior second baseman Connor Kopach.

Following a walk to senior center fielder Ryan Smith, junior left fielder Greg Lambert welcomed Curtis to the game with a sharp liner back up the box that careened off the ULM starting pitchers’ upper leg for a single.

Curtis battled back, striking out junior first baseman Logan Blackfan, before giving up a ground ball single to left field off the bat of junior catcher Nick Hutchins that scored Kopach and Smith.

Two pitches later, a double steal attempt by Lambert and Hutchins saw ULM junior catcher Casey Oliver throw the ball into the Salukis bullpen down the left field line, scoring both Lambert and Hutchins on the throwing error.

Curtis ended the inning by striking out junior DH Hunter Anderson and forcing senior right fielder Jake Hand to fly out to center. But the damage was done to the tune of four Saluki runs to begin the game.

The Salukis would tack three more runs to the board in the fourth inning off of an RBI single by Hand, and two wild pitches by Curtis that scored Anderson and Hand.

Two more runs came in the fifth inning for the Salukis, with Hutchins scoring off a fielding error by ULM’s senior center fielder Nathan Reynolds and Hand scoring on a throwing error by ULM’s sophomore second baseman Blake Buckman.

ULM’s bats didn’t fare well against the 2016 MVC All-Conference First Team Saluki junior starting pitcher Michael Baird.

Coming off his first start of the season against Stetson, where Baird picked up the win tossing 6 ⅔ shutout innings while allowing only three hits, the 6-foot-5-inch Saluki ace picked up right where he left off. Baird allowed only four hits through seven strong shutout innings in this matchup, to keep his 0.00 season ERA intact.

The Salukis will look to take the momentum from this dominant win into Sunday’s 1 p.m. series finale game.

Hoping to push the Salukis to their second series win of the young season, senior pitcher Austin McPheron will take the mound in place of senior starting pitcher Joey Marciano, who is still working his way back from an arm issue that occurred in his start last week against Stetson.

Sports writer Denton Giovenco can be reached at dgiovenco@dailyegyptian.com.

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