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Big first inning propels Belmont past Salukis for season sweep

Sophomore+pitcher+Mitch+Townsend+throws+from+the+mound+during+the+Salukis%E2%80%99+9-3+loss+to+Belmont+on+Tuesday%2C+April+18%2C+2017%2C+at+Itchy+Jones+Stadium.+%28William+Cooley+%7C+%40Wcooley%29%0A
Sophomore pitcher Mitch Townsend throws from the mound during the Salukis’ 9-3 loss to Belmont on Tuesday, April 18, 2017, at Itchy Jones Stadium. (William Cooley | @Wcooley)

Sophomore pitcher Mitch Townsend throws from the mound during the Salukis’ 9-3 loss to Belmont on Tuesday, April 18, 2017, at Itchy Jones Stadium. (William Cooley | @Wcooley)

Sophomore pitcher Mitch Townsend throws from the mound during the Salukis’ 9-3 loss to Belmont on Tuesday, April 18, 2017, at Itchy Jones Stadium. (William Cooley | @Wcooley)

By Denton "Gio" Giovenco

The SIU baseball team surrendered five runs to Belmont in the top of the first inning, and only managed to muster three runs of its own through nine innings in a 9-3 losing effort Tuesday night.

Tuesday’s game served as the Southern’s second and final meeting with non-conference opponent Belmont for the season. The Salukis lost in an offensive battle with the Bruins in their first meeting 18-17 on Feb. 28.

Freshman pitcher Henry Boeckmann toed the rubber for Southern in his fourth consecutive Tuesday start of the season.

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Boeckmann struggled from the get-go, allowing five hits and two sacrifice flies through the first seven batters he faced in the top of the first inning. He ended Belmont’s onslaught with a swinging strikeout on his 30th pitch of the inning.

Senior pitcher Austin McPheron replaced Boeckmann on the mound for the top of the second, bringing Boeckmann’s night to an end after 1.0 innings, allowing five runs on five hits and one strikeout.

This was Boeckmann’s shortest start of the season, after managing only 1.1 innings in his start against Austin Peay on April 4.

Senior shortstop Will Farmer watches a foul ball after a hit out of the stadium during the Salukis’ 9-3 loss to Belmont on Tuesday, April 18, 2017, at Itchy Jones Stadium. (William Cooley | @Wcooley)

The Bruins added two more runs in the top of the fourth and another in the top of the sixth to take a commanding 8-0 lead.

Southern showed signs of life with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, when freshman right fielder Addison Fugitt scored from third base on a wild pitch to put the Salukis’ first run on the board.

Junior left fielder Greg Lambert followed with a double to right center and scored on junior first baseman Logan Blackfan’s home run over the right field fence to make it an 8-3 game.

But this was all the offense the Salukis could manage as the Bruins added on more run in the top of the eighth inning on their way to a 9-3 victory.

Salukis Blackfan and senior center fielder Ryan Smith both recorded 2-for-4 days at the plate, with Blackfan also accounting for one run scored and two RBI’s.

Senior third baseman Ryan Sabo prepares to catch a fly ball while senior shortstop Will Farmer watches during the Salukis’ 9-3 loss to Belmont on Tuesday, April 18, 2017, at Itchy Jones Stadium. (William Cooley | @Wcooley)

Six of Southern’s seven hits Tuesday night came from its top four batters in the order, with senior shortstop Will Farmer accounting for the seventh hit out of the six-hole.

The Salukis utilized seven pitchers in Tuesday night’s non-conference match-up with Belmont, with every pitcher but starter Boeckmann accounting for at least one walk of the game’s eight total walks issued to the Bruins.

SIU (18-20, 5-4 MVC) will continue non-conference play this weekend with a three-game series against Tennessee Tech. The first game is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Friday at Itchy Jones Stadium. Senior starting pitcher Chad Whitmer will toe the rubber for the Salukis in the first game of the series.

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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