Salukis drop opener to Memphis

Salukis drop opener to Memphis

By Thomas Donley, @TDonleyDE |Daily Egyptian

The SIU baseball team could not overcome an early deficit in a 7-4 loss Thursday night against Memphis.

The Salukis (12-8-1) stranded 10 runners on base, while the Tigers (9-12) collected 14 hits off SIU pitching.

“Our strike zone awareness is nonexistent,” said SIU coach Ken Henderson, who was ejected in the seventh inning for arguing balls and strikes. “We swing at balls we shouldn’t swing at. We take strikes … Once you start struggling a little bit, you try to do too much. Guys are trying to pull balls instead of staying inside it, and guys are pulling off balls.”

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Saluki batters struck out 10 times on the night and drew nine walks.

SIU’s Nos. 1 through 3 hitters were a combined 0-11. The Dawgs left the bases loaded in the third and eighth innings, scoring a total of one run in those two frames.

Junior left-hander Joey Marciano (1-3) had his worst outing of the year, allowing five runs on five hits in 2.1 innings after allowing six runs in his first 30.2 innings of the year.

Sophomore righty Colton Hathcock (2-3) earned the win with 5.1 innings of three-run baseball.

Memphis junior shortstop Brandon Grudzielanek, the nephew of 15-year MLB veteran Mark Grudzielanek, collected a game-high three RBIs against Marciano, including a two-run home run in the third inning.

Junior closer Nolan Blackwood earned his fourth save of the season.

Saluki junior reliever Austin McPheron provided 3.2 innings of one-run relief of Marciano in his first appearance since Feb. 23. 

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“They were sitting on the fastball, it looked like, off [Marciano],” he said. “So I threw some offspeed early to try to keep them off their toes.”

McPheron lowered his ERA from 108.00 to 7.04.

Sophomore first baseman Logan Blackfan led SIU with two hits and two RBIs. Junior second baseman Trent Turner led the Tigers with three hits.

“We didn’t play poorly, ” Henderson said. “But we didn’t pitch well enough and we didn’t hit well enough to win.”

Junior right-hander Chad Whitmer (1-0, 2.61 ERA) will take the mound for the Salukis at 4:30 p.m. Friday. Memphis will counter with sophomore righty Connor Alexander (2-1, 3.24).

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

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