Salukis win Alumni Weekend series over Evansville


Kaber Rog (31) at bat against the Belmont Bruins April 8th, 2023 at the Itchy Jones Stadium in Carbondale, Ill.

SIU baseball (22-14) won another series this past weekend after taking two out of three games at home from the Evansville Aces (20-15). They bounced back with wins in the final two games after dropping the first matchup of the series on Friday. It took place during the annual Alumni Weekend, where late coach Dan Callahan had his No. 37 jersey retired on Saturday, only the second retired number in program history.

Their 10-2 loss in the leading game of the series marked the first conference game Southern lost at home. The Dawgs tallied the first run of the game in the bottom of the first on a ground-rule double from Bennett Eltoft that plated Pier-Olivier Boucher who was hit by a pitch.

Saluki starter Ben Chapman was handed his first loss of the year which was fueled when the Aces rattled off five runs off him in the third inning. After two perfect innings, Evansville recorded three singles and a double that brought around two runs. Then Mark Shallenberger stepped to the plate where he launched a two-out, three-run homer to right that pushed the Evansville lead to 5-1. Chapman would record the final out of the frame but was chased from the game afterwards.


Ryan Rodriguez and Kaeber Rog had nice days at the plate, both recording two hits with a double. Southern used four pitchers behind Chapman’s start and three of them allowed earned runs. Sam Replogle was the final to man the mound for SIU and spun a scoreless 1.1 innings while scattering two walks and striking out two batters.

Shallenberger wouldn’t be done with his damage for the day, adding another home run in the top half of the fifth, this time of the two-run variety. After a two-run single for the Aces in the seventh, Shallenberger doubled in his sixth run of the day in the eighth inning which scored the tenth Evansville run. A sac fly from Nathan Lyons in the bottom of the eighth allowed Boucher to score his second run of the game but that was the furthest extent of the Salukis’ comeback effort.

SIU would respond to the loss with a 6-3 victory after Callahan’s jersey retirement before the game. Their offense put together back-to-back three-run frames in the fourth and fifth innings which is all their pitching staff needed.

Cole Christman led off the bottom of the fourth with a double and after a walk to Rog, Steven Loden singled Christman home. Their bats weren’t necessarily needed to supply their next two runs as two hit-by-pitches also occurred in the frame, one of them when the bases were loaded. Then a wild pitch chased home the third run of the inning for the Dawgs.

Two RBI doubles from Evansville in the next inning bit into the Southern lead but the Salukis answered back in the bottom half. The three runs in the fifth were provided off the bat of Loden who unloaded for a home run and gave him 4 RBI on the day. It was Loden’s eleventh bomb of the year and drove in his 38th run of the year, both ranking second in the Missouri Valley Conference.

Jordan Bloemer moved to 3-0 on the season after his five strong innings pitched. He only allowed two earned runs, surrendered five hits and two walks, and also struck out five Aces. Scott Harper was brilliant behind Bloemer in relief, giving the Salukis 2.2 scoreless frames as he scattered four hits, walked two, and set down four on strikes. Paul Bonzagni collected his third save of the season as he recorded the final four outs working around a homer he gave up to lead off the ninth.

It led to a rubber game where the Dawgs wound up walking off the Aces 3-2. Tanner Lewis toed the rubber for SIU and turned in a phenomenal start. He tossed six innings of one-run ball, only allowing three hits, walking four, and striking out 10 Evansville batters. Although Lewis exited the game with a lead, the Aces tied the game later leaving Lewis with a no-decision. Bonzagni would earn the win as he pitched the final three innings, scattering three hits and allowing a run.


Pier-Boucher Olivier got the scoring started with his solo shot as the second batter of the game. The Aces would respond with a solo home run of their own in the top of the second that knotted the score at one. A sac fly from Matt Schark in the bottom half of the sixth plated Rog and gave Southern a temporary 2-1 edge. The Aces would tie the game at two in the seventh with a sac fly of their own.

It set up a bottom of the ninth situation where Schark led off the final inning of regulation with a double. He moved to third on a groundout and with two outs, Nathan Bandy stroked a single that scored Schark and won the game and series for SIU.

The Salukis are scorching hot, now having won 14 of their last 16 games and doing it with a formula of improved pitching and timely hitting. They will remain at Itchy Jones Stadium for their next matchup on Tuesday as they’ll take on the Lindenwood Lions (8-28) at 6 pm.

Sports reporter Howard Woodard can be reached at [email protected].

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