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Salukis fail to protect early lead as bullpen falters late in loss to Murray State

Then-sophomore infielder Greg Lambert slides into home during the Salukis’ 7-6 win against Indiana State on Friday, April 8, 2016 at Itchy Jones Stadium. Lambert had one hit and two runs during the game.

Then-sophomore infielder Greg Lambert slides into home during the Salukis’ 7-6 win against Indiana State on Friday, April 8, 2016 at Itchy Jones Stadium. Lambert had one hit and two runs during the game.

By Denton "Gio" Giovenco

The Salukis claimed an early 9-0 lead Wednesday night, but failed to capitalize as the bullpen allowed 10 runs over three innings of relief to drop the game 13-12 at Murray State.

Senior pitcher Austin McPheron received the nod as starting pitcher Wednesday night.

McPheron looked to remain a productive starting pitcher for SIU, following an efficient 3.2 innings of work, allowing five hits and one run to go along with one walk and two strikeouts in his first start of the season at Louisiana Monroe on February 26.

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McPheron did not disappoint — tossing 5 solid innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits and one base on balls while striking out four.

The Saluki bullpen was handed the game in the bottom of the sixth inning with a 12-3 lead, but failed to keep Murray State off the board.

Four Saluki relief pitchers combined to surrender ten runs (all earned) on eight hits, four walks and three hit-by-pitches to allow Murray State to battle back late in the game to take the win.

On the bright side, the Salukis’ bats roared back to life Wednesday night.

Following a meager six-hit affair Sunday against Western Illinois, the Salukis clubbed fourteen hits Wednesday to tie their season-high for hits in a game.

Five of those fourteen hits came off the scorching-hot bat of junior left fielder Greg Lambert.

Lambert went 5 for 5 with two doubles and a home run, logging seven RBI’s and scoring three times.

To go along with Lambert’s multi-hit night, junior second baseman Connor Kopach, senior center fielder Ryan Smith and junior first baseman Logan Blackfan all finished the game 2 for 4 at the plate.

The Salukis (7-5) will have a day off Thursday before they travel to Memphis to begin a three-game weekend series. Friday’s game is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. start against the Tigers.

Sports writer Denton “Gio” Giovenco can be reached at dgiovenco@dailyegyptian.com or on Twitter @DentonGiovenco.

To stay up to date with all your SIU sports news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

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