Saluki baseball sweeps in-state rival Western Illinois

By Thomas Donley, @TDonleyDE

The Southern Illinois baseball team continued its domination of Western Illinois on Sunday as it picked up its first series sweep since 2014.

The Salukis (4-3) scored in each of the first four innings to back a stellar outing by sophomore right-hander Michael Baird.  The Leathernecks (0-6) committed three errors and collected three hits in a 9-0 loss.

Baird (1-1) pitched six shutout innings, striking out a career-high nine batters and walking none.

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“I was able to throw my fastball early in the count,” he said. “Just being able to attack them early on in the count and not get behind them.”

SIU struck first, scoring a run on an RBI single by junior right fielder Jake Hand before WIU sophomore lefty J. T. Baksha (0-1) could record an out. The Salukis loaded the bases with nobody out, but Baksha struck out the next three hitters.

“They knew I wasn’t happy,” coach Ken Henderson said. “You might not score there, but you’ve got to put the ball in play. You can’t strike out in those situations.”

SIU picked up five runs in the fourth inning, led off by a solo home run by junior shortstop Will Farmer. 

“I was just trying to put a good swing on it,” Farmer said. “Luckily I got a fastball to hit early in the count, put a good swing on it, and it went out.”

Junior righty Jacob Williams, and freshman left-handers Seth Hackett and Mitch Townsend provided three innings of scoreless relief for SIU. 

Sophomore left fielder Greg Lambert and sophomore second baseman Connor Kopach led SIU with two hits apiece. Lambert and junior center fielder Braden Mosley each collected a game-high two RBIs.

Southern Illinois has a winning record for the first time since April 21, 2014. The sweep was its first since May 9 to May 11, 2014 against Mississippi Valley State.

The Salukis will face SEMO at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Itchy Jones Stadium. Senior Bryce Sablotny (0-1, 15.75 ERA) will pitch for SIU.

Thomas Donley can be reached at [email protected]

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