SIU Baseball Continues Slow Start, Falls to 3-5


Will Becque/SIU Athletics

Pitcher Blake Begner. Photograph courtesy of SIU Athletics.

The SIU Baseball [3-5] team traveled to Jacksonville, Alabama this past weekend to take on the Gamecocks of Jacksonville State [3-4].  

The Salukis took the first game of the series on Friday afternoon 8-7 behind junior transfer Steven Loden’s two home runs, marking the second time Loden has hit two home runs in a game in the young season.  

Designated hitter Bennet Eltoft, also a junior transfer, went three for four at the plate and drove in two runs.  Kaeber Rog, Noah Cook and Matt Schark had 1 RBI per piece, and Loden had 3.  


Senior Ben Chapman made the start for SIU and threw five scoreless innings with two strikeouts and 3 earned runs.  He was replaced by Scott Harper, who picked up the win while striking out 4 of 9 batters he faced.  Shane Wilhelm threw 1.2 innings with no earned runs, and Matthew Steidl picked up the last out of the game.

SIU jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third inning and wouldn’t trail the entire game.  They added one run in the fifth, and four more in the ninth.  The game didn’t end without drama; Jacksonville State, who had been hanging around all game, managed to score 3 runs in the ninth before Steidl earned his first save of the season.  

The Salukis and Gamecocks would face off again on Saturday afternoon, with SIU falling 13-8.  

Dermody Easton got the call to start and went four innings, with three earned runs, three strikeouts and two walks.  He was replaced by Tanner Lewis, who pitched only one inning and gave up three earned runs.  

Matthew Steidl, who also gave up three earned runs, would take the loss.  He was followed by Jake Kuntzendorf and Scott Harper, who would give up one and three earned runs respectively.  

SIU opened the scoring in the first inning with Kaber Rog’s sacrifice fly and Bennet Eltoft’s score.  Pier-Oliver Boucher hit a solo home run in the fourth, Eltoft scored again in the fifth on Steven Loden’s fielder’s choice, and Boucher’s fifth-inning groundout drove in Rog.

In the eighth inning, Boucher scored again on Nathan Bandy’s fielder’s choice.  Noah Cook’s single drove in Cole Christman, and Ryan Rodriguez’s double drove in Mathieu Vallee and Bandy.


SIU stuck with Jacksonville State and even led through the fifth inning. The Gamecocks seized the lead when they exploded for six runs in the sixth inning, with TJ Reeves hitting a three-run home run in addition to three other runs being scored.  

Sunday’s game would be much more of a pitcher’s duel, with Jacksonville State’s Eli Zielinski would hold SIU scoreless through 5 innings.  SIU’s Ryan Rodriguez would hit a double to bring home Nate Lyons, it would be the only run SIU would manage in the game.

Paul Bonzagni was given the ball for SIU, and he had a strong start, with only one earned run through the fourth inning.  Things would fall apart in the fifth though, as the Gamecocks drove in 4 runs.  Sam Replogle and Ben Riffe would finish the game for SIU, with Riffe giving up 3 hits.  

The Salukis had a chance in the ninth inning to tie up the game; Rog, Boucher, and Christman all reached to leave the bases loaded.  Jacksonville State’s Reid Fagerstrom would be the hero of the game, striking out pinch hitter Vinni Massaglia to secure the win for the Gamecocks.  

SIU opens its home schedule on Tuesday, February 28 against the Saint Louis Billikens at 3 PM.  The Dawg Pound will be hosting a maroon-out event during the game.  

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Sports Reporter Ryan Grieser can be reached at [email protected]