Baird’s gem powers Salukis past in-state rival

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Baird’s gem powers Salukis past in-state rival

By Thomas Donley, @TDonleyDE

Southern Illinois sophomore right-hander Michael Baird was three outs away from the Salukis’ first no-hitter since 1979 — but an Illinois batter ended his chance at history.

Although he allowed a leadoff single in the ninth, he finished the game with SIU’s (12-7-1) first complete-game shutout in nearly four years in a 1-0 win against Illinois (7-10) on Sunday.

“I didn’t really notice until my sixth inning that I had a shot at [a no-hitter],” Baird said. “I was just thinking ‘If it’s God’s will for me to throw a no-hitter, then let it be.'”

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Freshman pinch-hitter Jack Yalowitz hit a 3-1 slider to center field for a single, ending Baird’s bid to become the first Saluki to throw a no-no since Paul Evans’ 7-inning goose egg against SIU-Edwardsville on April 15, 1979.

Baird (3-1, 1.30 ERA) did earn his first career complete-game shutout, and SIU’s first since Cody Forsythe’s against Creighton on April 21, 2012.

“[Baird was] good,” sophomore catcher Nick Hutchins said. “As he always is. He always feels like he’s on his game. His slider was unbelieveable.” 

Senior righty Andrew Mamlic (1-3, 3.81 ERA) took the loss for Illinois despite allowing no earned runs on two hits in seven innings.

The Dawgs scored the lone run of the game in the seventh without collecting a base hit. A hit by pitch, a fielder’s choice and two errors led to sophomore infielder Greg Lambert crossing the plate.

“Our offense was better in this game than two hits,” coach Ken Henderson said. “[Junior right fielder] Jake Hand may have had the most tough-luck day I’ve ever seen from a guy. He hit line drives all over the field, and they caught them. I thought we had more good swings than the scoreboard indicates.”

Sophomore Logan Blackfan’s second-inning double and junior third baseman Ryan Sabo’s third-inning single were SIU’s only two hits of the game.

The win gives the Salukis as many victories this season as they finished the 2015 season with.

The Dawgs’ next game will be at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Itchy Jones Stadium against Memphis. 

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

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