Big second inning leads Salukis past Belmont

Big second inning leads Salukis past Belmont

By Ted Ward, @TedWard_DE

A seven-run second inning from SIU baseball helped it breeze past Belmont.

The Salukis (18-10-1) defeated the Bruins (16-12), 11-1. Southern Illinois has won six of its last eight games.

The home team’s offense came alive after falling behind 1-0 in the first. The Dawgs batted around the order with six hits, which started with a two-run double from sophomore catcher Nick Hutchins on a 1-1 count.

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“I was just looking for a good pitch to drive in that situation,” Hutchins said. “I tried to stay up the middle and he threw a changeup up in the zone and I was a little out in front, but luckily it hooked right inside the line.”

The Salukis were 9-for-20 with runners in scoring position and 10-for-26 with runners on base.

“Hitting is contagious and that was a heck of an at-bat by Hutchins staying in on the ball and driving it,” coach Ken Henderson said. “We got on a roll with some good at-bats with guys seeing the ball well and we’ve been doing that a lot more lately with being selective looking for good pitches to hit.”

Junior pitcher Austin McPheron (1-0, 4.50 ERA) recorded the win pitching 4 2/3 innings giving up no runs on two hits. Belmont freshman pitcher Casey Queener (1-2, 7.90 ERA) suffered the loss, allowing seven runs on six hits.

Senior pitcher Connor McFadden (0-0, 3.52 ERA) started the game, but was relieved after two innings by McPheron. McFadden walked the first two batters he faced and had four in the game while giving up one run. He was pulled because he struggled with his pitch command.

“When you have a big lead you have to go out and throw strikes and [McPheron] did,” Henderson said. “What he did was probably one of our best long relief appearances so far this season and it was huge for us.”

The Salukis scored one run in the third, one in the fifth and two in the eighth to extend the lead.

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Pitching held Belmont in check the entire game as the Bruins were 0-for-13 with runners on and 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

SIU play Murray State at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Murray, Ky. Senior Bryce Sablotny (2-2 5.34 ERA) will start.

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

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