Struggles continue for Baseball as Dawgs lose series vs Illinois


Arjun Tsapalasetty | [email protected]

Cole Christman (28) returns to the dugout after he gets out in the second game of the non-conference play against the Ohio Bobcats March 04, 2023 at the Itchy Jones Stadium in Carbondale, Ill

Playing on a neutral site due to weather conditions, the Saluki Baseball team (9-12) dropped the first two games of their series against Illinois (9-7) this past weekend but avoided a sweep with a win on Sunday to salvage a game from the Illini. Each game was close, with neither team winning a game by more than two runs.

The Saluki starting pitchers certainly performed best on Friday and Sunday, with Ben Chapman and Tanner Lewis each going 6+ innings and only allowing two runs each. Easton Dermondy’s day was done early on Saturday after giving up five runs, including two homers to the Illinois lineup.

The Saluki offense certainly slowed down this weekend, scoring just 16 runs total against Illini pitching. SIU scored 16 runs in just their most recent game against Southern Indiana on Wednesday. Most of those runs were scored in the high-scoring affair on Saturday, where the dawgs earned 10 of those runs.


The Dawgs found themselves in a hole quickly in game one, with a home run allowed by Chapman on the second batter he faced, and quickly SIU was down 2-0. However that was all Illinois would get for a while, as Chapman found his groove quickly and only allowed two more hits in the rest of his outing.

A leadoff double by Cole Christman got the Dawgs cooking in the top of the third and Nathan Bandy brought him home off a double three batters later, earning back a run from earlier. They would do so again in the fifth when Christman homered down the left-field line to tie things up.

The game was locked in a pitcher’s dual from there, with only three baserunners allowed by either team in the next three innings. But then the Illini started playing small ball. Steidl had a clean bottom of the seventh, but a walk to start the eighth, two groundouts to get the runner to third, and a single to right gave Illinois the late lead over SIU.

With just three outs left, Rodriguez came up with a leadoff double to give SIU a chance, but that was as far as the offense would go, as the Dawgs would go down 3-2 in game one. 

A wild game two would occur the following day, with 24 combined hits between the two squads. Both squads earned at least one run in each half of the first four innings until Tanner Perry broke that trend in the bottom of the fifth to keep the game tied at 9-all. Perry’s clean inning would not follow him after, as he allowed two homers in the bottom of the sixth, forcing the dawgs to go for a pitching change to Paul Bonzagni.

The Illini would add another insurance run in the seventh to make it 12-9, but the Salukis got some momentum in the top half of the next inning.

Rog and Boucher singled for an unearned run, cutting it to a two-run deficit. Then an error and a walk would make for a bases-loaded situation for Christman, who homered earlier in the day. However, Christman fouled out to the catcher, leaving the ducks on the pond, and the dawgs were still down by two with just three outs to go. The Dawgs would go three-up three down in the ninth, and SIU would drop game two in a high-scoring affair at 12-10.


Both offenses were shut out for the beginning of game three until a homer for Illinois broke things open for the Illini to earn a 2-0 lead. The Salukis only had one hit all day, until a huge sixth inning gave them the momentary lead. Pier Olivier-Boucher and doubled to bring home Nathan Bandy for their first run of the day, then Ryan Rodriguez did the same off a single to bring Boucher home for the tie. 

With star Kaeber Rog up next at-bat, the Illini elected for a pitching change, but that didn’t change the result. Rog came up with a clutch triple to bring Rodriguez home and the lead at 3-2.

Illinois would try to rally the very next inning and with Lewis nearing his pitch count, SIU elected for Jake Combs to get out of a jam with runners at first and second and one out. He did just that with a quick double play to end the inning on his second pitch in and the Dawgs would keep that lead the rest of the way and salvage game three with a 4-2 final after Rog added an insurance run in the eighth.

The Dawgs will look to build off that momentum from game three into this weekend where they’ll host conference rival UIC (7-8) for their first Valley games of the year in a three-game weekend series. Game one will start with a 6 pm first pitch time.

Sports editor Joseph Bernard can be reached at [email protected] or on twitter @Jojobernard2001. 

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