Baird shuts down Hawkeyes on the hill

By Ted Ward, @TedWard_DE

A strong pitching performance from sophomore pitcher Michael Baird kept Iowa’s bats quiet as SIU baseball won the three-game series with a 6-1 win on Sunday.

Baird earned the win, pitching 7 2/3 innings giving up six hits and striking out two with one earned run. He said he felt like he had really good command of his pitches and got a big help from his fielders.

“Everything was working today from my pitches to the defense behind me,” he said. “With the way our pitchers have been throwing the ball there’s definitely a pressure to step up and perform and I really like being the Sunday starter because I have a chance to either win the series, save it, or sweep it.”

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The Salukis got on the board early in the third inning after an RBI single by junior outfielder Jake Hand. They never trailed as they tallied 15 hits.

Junior third baseman Ryan Sabo doubled in a run to put the Salukis up 2-0 in the fourth.

Sophomore catcher Nick Hutchins scored on a past ball in the sixth.

Junior infielder Will Farmer drove in two runs in the seventh on a double and sophomore infielder Connor Kopach singled in another in the same inning to put the game out of reach. 

The Hawkeyes loaded the bases against Baird in the sixth but a 5-4-3 double play started by Sabo ended the threat.

Hawkeye senior pitcher Calvin Mathews took the loss allowing two runs on seven hits in four innings of work.

Iowa scored its only run in the eighth off sophomore closer Ryan Netemeyer but failed to score in the ninth. 

Sophomore first baseman Logan Blackfan, who went 3-5 with one run scored, said it has been a positive to have the bats show up this weekend.

“We’ve been hitting really well and taking good swings at hittable pitches,” he said. “We’ve also been more balanced this season whereas last season we’d have good pitching and bad hitting and vice versa.”

Coming off the 7-5 loss on Saturday, coach Ken Henderson said he was encouraged by his team’s performance and felt confident with his starting pitcher.

“Anytime you give Baird the ball you feel confident he’ll give you a solid outing,” he said. “I thought our hitters did a nice job making solid contact and driving the ball and even our outs were good because we swung at pitches in the zone and didn’t strikeout a lot today.”

The Salukis play Belmont at 4 p.m. on Tuesday in Nashville, Tenn.

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

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