Salukis escape on yet another walk off win


Nathan Bandy (7) at bat against the Belmont Bruins April 6th, 2023 at the Itchy Jones Stadium in Carbondale, Ill.

The SIU baseball team came back from being down 9-5 in the eighth inning and walked off Austin Peay to earn their fifth walk off victory in 23 wins this season.  

First Baseman, Matt Schark came up clutch once again, hitting a single off of the left field wall to send Steven Loden across the plate.  This game marked Schark’s school-record third walk-off hit of the season.  

The walk-off may not have been the most exciting play of the game, though.  


Roland Fanning, the head coach of Austin Peay, was tossed from the game.  Rhodes said that Fanning came out of the visitors dugout yelling after Nathan Bandy scored. Both teams had already received warnings from the umpires earlier in the game, and Fanning was ultimately thrown out

In his postgame interview, Saluki head coach Lance Rhodes said “That’s one of the more disrespectful opponents I’ve played in my life… I’ve never played a college baseball game like that.”

On the field, Paul Bonzagni picked up his seventh win of the year, which leaves him alone in first for wins in the Missouri Valley Conference.  Matthew Steidl, Easton Dermody, Shane Wilhelm, and Bonzagni all pitched in relief of Jake Combs, who had a shaky start after giving up 4 earned runs in 1.2 innings.  

Austin Peay piled up four runs in the second inning, but Pier-Olivier Boucher cut the lead to three with a single-run homer in the bottom of the inning. 

Cole Christman’s single brought Boucher home again, and Bennet Eltoft’s right field homer brought in Christman and Ryan Rodriguez to put SIU up 5-4 in the bottom of the third inning

The Governors would hold SIU scoreless for the next four innings while tacking on five of their own, which left them holding a 9-5 advantage in the bottom of the eighth inning.  

The Dawgs would not be denied.  Mathieu Vallee’s single brought Eltoft home, followed by a Nathan Bandy double down the left field line that drove in Vallee and Schark.  Boucher singled to first base, and Bandy scored on a fielding error to tie up the game 9-9 heading into the ninth inning. 


SIU held Austin Peay scoreless with two strikeouts in the top of the frame, setting the table for a comeback.  Loden was hit by a pitch, and Eltoft’s single advanced Loden to second.  Schark swung on the first pitch he saw and set a single into left field, batting in Loden and ending the game in sudden, dramatic fashion.  

The dawgs have won two in a row in walk-off fashion now and have now won 15 of their last 17 games, dating back to March 19th.

The Salukis will travel to Terre Haute, Indiana this weekend to take on the MVC leading Indiana State Sycamores.  The two teams are separated by only one game in the conference standings, setting this series up to be a must-win for the Dawgs as they look to separate themselves from the rest of the conference.  

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