Rough start continues for Salukis with 5-4 loss to SIU Edwardsville


Arjun Tsapalasetty | [email protected]

Steven Loden (44) pitches the ball in the Salukis second game of the non-conference play March 04, 2023 at the Itchy Jones Stadium in Carbondale, Ill.

Saluki baseball has fallen below .500 again, suffering a late-inning comeback on the road in a 5-4 loss to the SIU Edwardsville Cougars. The Salukis dropped to 6-7 on the season, continuing the worst start in the Lance Rhodes era.

Saluki starter Jake Combs threw five shutout innings with only two hits given up in the afternoon. At the end of that stretch, catcher Cole Christman broke a scoreless tie in the top of the 5th with a two-run home run, and then added two more runs with a single in the 6th to make it a 4-0 Saluki lead.

After SIUE benefitted from a leadoff error and a walk, Combs was pulled for reliever Ben Riffe. Five Cougars would cross the plate while Riffe was on the mound, including the two inherited runners charged to Combs.


SIUC didn’t find much success offensively outside of those two Christman hits. They only gathered up six hits in total, and had their two leadoff hitters Jack Rigoni and Pier-Olivier Boucher combine for an 0-for-10 afternoon at the plate.

The loss marks another in a trend this Saluki season of the bullpen falling apart. Of the team’s seven losses, five of them were charged to relievers. The pen has a combined ERA over 8.00, a number ballooned by the once-reliable Matthew Steidl’s 12 earned runs in 7.2 innings pitched in 2023.

Southern will face perhaps its greatest challenge this weekend, as it hosts the Kentucky Wildcats (10-2) of the SEC. The series was meant to give the Salukis an opportunity to propel them into the NCAA Tournament discussion, but now it represents a chance to dramatically change course from a difficult start, or otherwise fall deeper into that hole.

The series against Kentucky at Itchy Jones Stadium begins on Friday at 6 p.m., with games at 2 p.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Staff reporter Brandyn Wilcoxen can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @BrandynWilcoxen.

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