The SIU baseball team was in control for the first five innings of Saturday’s game with Iowa, but could not put away its Big Ten opponent.
The Hawkeyes (3-5) used a four-run sixth inning to even the series with Southern Illinois (6-4) with a 7-5 win.
SIU stranded runners in scoring position in each of the first eight innings.
I don’t know that I’ve ever seen that,” coach Ken Henderson said. “We had 15 hits and seven stolen bases and we get five runs out of that. We just didn’t have good [at-bats] with runners in scoring position.”
Saluki junior starter Chad Whitmer experienced his roughest inning of the season in the top of the sixth, as he allowed four runs on three hits, a walk and a hit by pitch. Iowa sophomore designated hitter Austin Guzzo’s game-tying two-run homer highlighted the rally. Whitmer had allowed one run all year entering the game.
“Just too many pitches over the middle,” senior catcher Taylor Martin said. “[Guzzo] hadn’t hit a ball on the inner half all game, but he got a ball middle-in, and he made a good swing on it.”
The Hawkeyes took the lead an inning later on an RBI double by senior center fielder Joel Booker off SIU junior righty Jacob Williams (0-1).
Iowa sophomore righty Nick Gallagher (1-1) earned the win with 4 2/3 innings of relief. He allowed two runs on seven hits with one walk and one strikeout.
The Salukis struck first with a three-run second inning, capped by Martin’s two-run home run.
“All I really was trying to do was move the runner over to third,” Martin said. “But fortunately, he hung a 3-2 fastball, and I was able to put a good swing on it and get it out.”
Martin drove in another run with a base hit in the fifth, following sophomore designated hitter Hunter Anderson’s second RBI double of the game. That rally extended the Saluki lead to 5-1.
The rubber match of the series will be at 1 p.m. Sunday at Itchy Jones Stadium. Saluki sophomore right-hander Michael Baird (1-1, 1.64 earned run average) will face Hawkeye senior righty Calvin Mathews (0-0, 2.25).
Thomas Donley can be reached at [email protected] or at 618-536-3307