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Salukis lose to Toledo despite big day at the plate

Then-junior+Will+Farmer+swings+to+hit+the+ball+March+26%2C+2016%2C+during+SIU%27s+11-5+win+against+Memphis+at+Itchy+Jones+Stadium.+%28Daily+Egyptian+file+photo%29
Then-junior Will Farmer swings to hit the ball March 26, 2016, during SIU's 11-5 win against Memphis at Itchy Jones Stadium. (Daily Egyptian file photo)

Then-junior Will Farmer swings to hit the ball March 26, 2016, during SIU's 11-5 win against Memphis at Itchy Jones Stadium. (Daily Egyptian file photo)

Then-junior Will Farmer swings to hit the ball March 26, 2016, during SIU's 11-5 win against Memphis at Itchy Jones Stadium. (Daily Egyptian file photo)

By Denton "Gio" Giovenco

SIU baseball tied its season-high of 14 hits in a game and set a new season-high of six doubles Friday against Toledo, but came 90 feet short of tying the game in the ninth to lose 8-7.

Junior left fielder Greg Lambert put the Salukis on the board early with a solo home run in the top of the first inning.

The Salukis made it a 2-0 game in the top of the second when senior third baseman Ryan Sabo drove in senior right fielder Jake Hand with a single to left field.

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Toledo battled back against SIU senior starting pitcher Chad Whitmer, scoring one run in the bottom of the second inning and three more in the bottom of the third to take an early 4-2 lead.

The Salukis reclaimed the lead 5-4 in the top of the fifth inning with a solo home run off the bat of senior shortstop Will Farmer, an RBI double by junior second baseman Connor Kopach and an RBI single by Lambert.

The lead was short-lived, with Toledo scoring three runs of its own in the bottom of the fifth inning to reclaim the lead 7-5 and force coach Ken Henderson to remove Whitmer from the game.

Friday’s start proved to be a rough outing for Whitmer, allowing seven runs on nine hits and two walks through 4.1 innings. Whitmer did strike out six batters, which moved his team-leading strikeout total to 29 on the season.

Senior pitcher Chad Whitmer throws the ball toward a Western Illinois batter during the Salukis’ 8-6 win against the Leathernecks on Friday, March 3, 2017, at Itchy Jones Stadium. (Jacob Wiegand | @jawiegandphoto)

The Salukis cut Toledo’s lead to one run in the top of the sixth with an RBI double by Sabo that scored Hand. SIU’s Farmer tried to score from second base on Sabo’s deep double to tie the game at seven runs apiece, but was cut down at home plate for the third out of the inning.

Toledo added an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh when Saluki freshman pitcher Brad Harrison gave up a solo home run to Toledo’s pinch hitter Josh Cales to make the score 8-6.

The home run accounted for one of only two hits — and the only run — that Harrison allowed in an impressive 3.2 innings of relief work.

SIU made a valiant effort in the top of the ninth to come back and take control of the game.

The Salukis loaded the bases with three consecutive singles by Farmer, Sabo and Kopach. Farmer scored on a fielder’s choice — when senior center fielder Ryan Smith grounded into a double play — bringing SIU within one run of Toledo at 8-7.

The tying run represented by senior Dyllin Mucha, who was brought in to pinch-run for Sabo, was stranded 90 feet from home at third base when junior catcher Nick Hutchins struck out to end the game.

Four Salukis claimed multi-hit performances Friday. Kopach went 3-for-5 and Sabo went 4-for-4, both recording two doubles each. Big-swingers Lambert and Farmer went 2-for-4 and 3-for-4 respectively, each with a solo home run.

SIU (9-8) will play two games Saturday at Illinois Field.

The first game of the doubleheader will feature senior starting pitcher Austin McPheron taking on Toledo at 11 a.m. At the completion of the rematch with Toledo, Saluki ace staring pitcher junior Michael Baird will take his season-long 0.00 ERA up against the University of Illinois.

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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