Salukis walk off Redhawks

Salukis walk off Redhawks

By Thomas Donley, @TDonleyDE

SIU sophomore first baseman Logan Blackfan started the game with an error, but atoned for his mistake with a career day at the plate.

Blackfan drove in a career-high five runs, including one on a walkoff sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth as the Salukis (5-3) beat Southeast Missouri State (4-4) 6-5.

Blackfan came to the plate with one out and runners at first and third in the bottom of the ninth and drove a pitch from SEMO senior lefty Jake Busiek into right field. Sophomore second baseman Connor Kopach beat the throw home to score the game-winning run.

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“It was a slider,” Blackfan said. “I think I hit it off the end of the bat a little bit, but I was just trying to get a good pitch, get a good swing on it, and hit something into the outfield.”

First inning miscues dug the Salukis a hole before they took an at-bat. Two of SEMO’s first three batters walked, and both came around to score. Senior first baseman Ryan Rippee broke the scoreless tie with an RBI double down the left field line. Junior centerfielder Dan Holst drove home another run with a single on the next pitch.

The Redhawks scored two more runs on a throwing error by Blackfan. Holst was able to score from first on the play after no Saluki retrieved the ball.

“That was just one of those things where you’ve got to put it behind you,” Blackfan said.

SIU got a run back in the bottom of the first when Blackfan extended his hitting streak to eight games with an RBI single.

He drove in two more with a third-inning single to cut the Redhawk lead to one.

SIU tied the game in the bottom of the seventh on back-to-back RBI groundouts by Blackfan and sophomore leftfielder Greg Lambert.

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“We’re learning how to win,” coach Ken Henderson said. “It’s the same group of guys, but they’re not the same guys, because they’ve matured. We weren’t ready to play in the first inning, and they knew it. Even though we were down, from the second inning on, we were ourselves.”

Junior right-hander Anthony Shimkus (2-0) picked up the win with two innings of scoreless relief. Redhawk senior righty Brady Wright (0-1) took the loss.

Holst led SEMO with three base hits. Blackfan’s five RBIs Wednesday doubled his season total to a team-high 10.

The Salukis host Iowa at 3 p.m. Friday in the first of a three-game series. Junior lefty Joey Marciano (1-1, 2.61 earned run average) will take the mound for SIU.

Thomas Donley can be reached at [email protected] or at 618-536-3307

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