Hilltoppers top Salukis twice in three games

After winning the season opener Saturday, the Saluki baseball team lost the next two games of its three-game series during the weekend.

SIU (1-2) traveled to Western Kentucky University (2-1) for a three-game series that was scheduled to start Friday but was postponed. The team then had a doubleheader Sunday to make up for the missed game.

Junior Sam Coonrod took the mound Saturday, but was limited to only 50 pitches. Coach Ken Henderson said he pitched better than the stats showed in the first inning. Coonrod had two earned runs off of three hits with three strikeouts, before freshman Chad Whitmer was called in for relief. The Salukis trailed WKU 2-1 when Whitmer entered the game.

Whitmer pitched through the seventh inning and run support came just in time to set him up for the win. The Salukis were able to score two runs in the eighth.

Seniors Jake Welch, Matt Jones and Ryan Casillas all singled during the inning. Senior Cody Daily recorded a sacrifice fly to score Jones and give the team a 3-2 lead.

Jones had the game-tying RBI and the game-winning run.

“I got a fastball and was able to take it into left field,” Jones said in a Saluki Athletics press release. “It felt pretty good to finally get a hit and for it to be in that situation, so that’s a good start to the year.”

The Salukis held the lead until the final out. Senior Tyler Dray recorded his first save of the season, and 10th of his career, which moved him to a tie for sixth place on SIU’s all time save list.

“The entire bullpen was great today,” Henderson said in a Saluki press release. “To go five and two-thirds and give up one hit and no runs, all those guys did a great job.”

The Salukis took an early 4-1 lead in game one Sunday, capped with senior outfielder, Donny Duschinsky’s two-run home run.  Former closer and senior Todd Eaton had his first start since his freshman year.

Western Kentucky tied the game at four in the third inning and added two more runs later to give them the 6-4 win.

Eaton pitched five innings and had five earned runs. Casillas went two for four at the plate with a double and an RBI.

Game two of the doubleheader did not go any better for the Salukis. The Hilltoppers had three straight two-out singles in the first inning off junior Aaron Hauge, to give them a 1-0 lead.

In the fourth inning, WKU’s infielder Ryan Church hit a solo home run. Hauge finished with two earned runs in 3.2 innings.

Western Kentucky added four more insurance runs in the game, which were all unearned.  SIU was only able to score one run off a Jones RBI single in the fifth inning.

The Salukis will head to Austin Peay State University for one game Tuesday.    

Aaron Graff can be contacted at Agraff@dailyegyptian.com, @Aarongraff_DE or 536-3311 ext. 269

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