Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Dominique Martinez-Powell | dmartinez_powell.photography
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Saluki sweeps weekend series against Valpo

Nathan+Bandy+%287%29+slides+to+home+base+scoring+a+run+for+the+Salukis+during+the+Mar.+24%2C+2024+game+against+Valparaiso+University+at+Itchy+Jones+Stadium+in+Carbondale%2C+Illinois.+Libby+Phelps+%7C+%40libbyphelpsphotography
Nathan Bandy (7) slides to home base scoring a run for the Salukis during the Mar. 24, 2024 game against Valparaiso University at Itchy Jones Stadium in Carbondale, Illinois. Libby Phelps | @libbyphelpsphotography

Saluki baseball opened up Missouri Valley Conference play, hosting the Valparaiso Beacons at Itchy Jones Stadium for a three-game set. SIU would sweep the series to improve to 17-7 (3-0) on the season.

First baseman Trey Cutchen got the Dawgs going early on Friday, leading off the bottom of first with a double scorched off the center field wall. He would later score on a groundout by Cole Christman, the first of two runs driven in by the catcher. Cutchen was one of the top performers in Friday’s matchup, going 3-4 with two doubles and going on to score twice.

Designated hitter Bennett Eltoft gave the biggest contribution to the Saluki offense in the second inning when he pulled a 1-0 pitch down the right-field line for a grand slam.

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Mike Hansell got the start in the series opener for SIU and delivered a strong, winning performance, going 5+ innings while striking out nine, surrendering six hits, walking five Beacons and surrendering two runs.

Saturday’s game was a slugfest for SIU. The Salukis tallied eight total extra-base hits, four doubles and four homers, and every player who started the game got into the hit column.

Eltoft had another great performance from the plate, going 2-3 with a double, a home run, and a walk, driving in three along the way, and Christman drove in another two with a solo shot and a sacrifice fly. Outfielder Jordan Bach also had a homer on Saturday.

Al Holguin was on the bump to begin Saturday’s game and pitched a gem. Holguin went five scoreless innings with five strikeouts to earn the win. Easton Dermody took over from there, going three innings, and surrendering one run to earn the save.

Second baseman Steven Loden ended the game via run rule when he blasted a three-run homer, his eighth long ball of the year, over the right field wall in the eighth inning to secure a series win.

The story for SIU’s offense in game three was their ability to take advantage of Valpo’s mistakes. Beacon pitchers walked nine Salukis and hit one batter. Of these 10 free passes, six came around to score.

The Dawgs also took advantage of a two-out error by the Valpo second baseman in the seventh. Two runs scored on the error, giving the lead to Southern, and they were able to extend the lead with two more in the same inning.

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Christman finished off his productive weekend with a 2-4, three RBI game with a double, a walk, and a stolen base.

Aiden Foeller was the starter for the series finale and delivered a solid performance. Foeller went six innings, sat down 11 via strikes, a single-game record for him, and only gave up three runs despite being hit hard at points.

Ben Riffe tossed a scoreless seventh and earned the win, while Anthony Pron took the eighth and the ninth, giving up two and finishing the sweep with a 9-5 Saluki victory.

SIU baseball will host a mid-week matchup with UT Martin (8-16) on Tuesday before resuming conference play next weekend when they travel to Evansville to take on the Purple Aces (9-14, 0-3).

To stay up to date on all your southern Illinois news, be sure to follow The Daily Egyptian on Facebook and @dailyegyptian on X [formerly known as Twitter].

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