Dawgs start slow, drops conference series to Evansville

By Thomas Donley, @tdonleyDE

The SIU baseball team (11-38, 6-12) lost its second straight Missouri Valley Conference series, dropping two of three at Evansville (26-19, 8-10).

A slow start hurt SIU in Friday’s series opener, a 4-3 Evansville victory.

The Purple Aces scored 4 runs in the first 5 innings against Saluki sophomore starter Chad Whitmer (0-4), who suffered his second consecutive loss

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SIU pushed across 2 runs in the sixth and 1 in the seventh against Evansville freshman starter Brodie Harkness, but junior reliever Conor Gilligan and junior closer Brent Jurecka closed the door in the late innings. Harkness (6-3) earned the win. Jurecka picked up his eighth save of the season.

Freshman center fielder Braden Mosley led SIU with a game-high 3 hits.

Sophomore designated hitter Max Foley led the Aces with 2 hits and a game-high 2 RBIs.

Evansville prevailed 6-5 in a back-and-forth contest Saturday that saw five lead changes.

Both starters lasted 5 innings but left the decisions to the bullpen.

SIU freshman designated hitter Logan Blackfan collected 2 doubles and drove in 1 run with a hit by pitch, picking up a game-high 3 RBIs.

An eighth-inning sacrifice fly by junior third baseman Jonathon Ramon against SIU freshman reliever Ryan Netemeyer (1-4) gave Evansville its final lead. 

Jurecka (3-2) earned the win in relief. Netemeyer suffered the loss. 

Five players picked up 2 hits Saturday. Ramon’s RBI double in the third was the Aces’ only extra-base hit.

SIU salvaged a 5-4 victory in Sunday’s series finale.

The Salukis jumped on Evansville junior starter Connor Strain (3-5) early, touching him for 4 runs in the only inning he pitched.

Saluki coach Ken Henderson said Sunday’s first inning was an improvement over Friday’s slow start.

“We came out ready to play,” Henderson said. “That’s something we’ve talked about all season, not giving up the first two or three innings.”

The Aces scored 3 runs in the fifth off Saluki sophomore starter Kyle Pruemer on 2 hits and 3 walks. 

Freshman Colin Holderman came on in the fifth to quiet the rally. Holderman (2-1) earned the win, finishing the game with 4 2/3 innings of 1-run relief. Strain suffered the loss. 

“[Holderman] was just throwing well,” Henderson said. “He was down in the zone. He didn’t walk anybody. He had good stuff, and not many of them put good swings on him.”

Blackfan and freshman catcher Nick Hutchins collected 2 hits each for SIU. 

Senior center fielder Kevin Kaczmarski and sophomore catcher Billy Lipari led Evansville with 2 hits as well.

Hutchins and Kaczmarski each drove in a game-high 2 runs Sunday.

The Salukis return home to host Missouri State for the final three home games of the season at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Itchy Jones Stadium.

 Thomas Donley can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3311 ext. 269.

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