Salukis get complete performance in win

By Ted Ward, @TedWard_DE

An all-around performance from SIU baseball earned a 13-3 win against Jacksonville State on Saturday to even the series at one game each.

The Salukis went 5-12 with runners in scoring position with 16 hits — tied for a season high — in the victory. Their pitching and defense did not disappoint either.

“We did everything well today,” coach Ken Henderson said. “Our offense came alive and we put good swings on the ball while not trying to do too much and played well.”

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Junior pitcher Chad Whitmer (3-0, 2.51 ERA) earned the win giving up two runs on nine hits in five innings of work. Sophomore pitcher Jack Pierce (3-1 5.45 ERA) suffered the loss for the Gamecocks.

“They’re a really good hitting ball club and I knew I would need more than just two pitches to beat them.” Whitmer said. “My slider wasn’t as sharp but my changeup was there and thanks to the wind it had a little more break to it than usual.”

Jacksonville State took the lead in the second inning before SIU freshman infielder Jared Schmidt hit his first career home run in the bottom of the inning to give the Salukis the lead.

“It felt good to get the first one,” Schmidt said. “I tried to not go chasing waterfalls and do too much and he gave me a fastball that caught a lot of the plate and I drove it.”

The Salukis scored one in the fifth, three in the sixth and six in the seventh.  

Junior infielder Connor Kopach’s three-run homer in the sixth put the game out of reach for the Gamecocks. Kopach had five runs batted in for the game. 

“To be honest I was a little thunderstruck and I was seeing the ball well,” he said. “We were able to put up some runs and help out pitchers out today and it feels good to get the win.”

In the sixth inning, sophomore designated hitter Drew Curtis also hit his first home run as a Saluki. Curtis made his season debut Friday.

“Yesterday was the first time I’d seen live pitching in awhile,” he said. “It’s been a slow process to get back but I just put a good swing on the ball and made solid contact.”

The Salukis play the series finale at 1 p.m. Sunday. Sophomore pitcher Michael Baird (4-1 1.77 ERA) will be the starter.

Ted Ward can be reached at [email protected] at 618-534-3303

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