Saluki baseball escapes with a 3-2 win

By Gus Bode

Illinois gave the SIU baseball team every chance it could to win Tuesday’s game.

The sixth error of the game by the Illini proved to be the most costly when junior second baseman Scott Elmendorf scored on sophomore shortstop Brandon Wikoff’s throwing error as the Salukis (24-18) upended Illinois 3-2 in 11 innings in Champaign.

Elmendorf hit a double to right field with the bases empty before shortstop Owen Mackedon drove him in after reaching on the throwing error as SIU defeated the Illini for the first time in nine years.

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Saluki coach Dan Callahan said the team has been playing with the most confidence they have had all season.

“Offensively, we didn’t swing it that well but the confidence was certainly a deciding factor,” Callahan said. “We kind of got lucky that inning.”

Junior reliever Daniel Wells locked down Illinois (25-17) in the bottom half of the 11th inning to earn his third win of the season.

Wells struck out the side, and fanned four batters total in his two scoreless innings of work. He dropped his earned run average down to 2.66 with the performance.

Wells said he was focused on throwing strikes and getting ahead of hitters.

“Pretty much the mindset of the entire team is different now because we’re playing well,” he said. “It’s the general mindset of the team that this is coming together and we’re beating teams we know we’re capable of beating.”

The rest of the bullpen did its job as well.

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After senior starting pitcher Shawn Joy departed after allowing a pair of runs through his four innings of work, Adam Curynski and Tyler Choate combined to throw five scoreless innings in relief.

Illini sophomore reliever Mike Sterk was dealt his first loss of the season. Sterk tossed two innings and allowed the unearned game-winning run in the top half of the 11th.

SIU only had four hits to Illinois’ nine, but junior Mark Kelly made his hits count.

Kelly went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and the Salukis’ only RBI.

SIU returns to action at 3 p.m. today on the road against Murray State to cap its nine-game road trip.

The Salukis pounded the Racers 17-4 in Carbondale April 7.

Matt Hartwig can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 282 or [email protected]

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