Bears take three from Salukis

By Thomas Donley, @tdonleyDE

The SIU baseball team suffered a sweep at the hands of the Missouri Valley Conference’s best team this weekend.

No. 14 Missouri State (35-10, 12-3 MVC) extended its winning streak to nine games with a sweep against the Salukis (11-41, 6-15).

The series opened with a pitcher’s duel Friday night in a 1-0 Missouri State win.


Saluki sophomore starter Chad Whitmer (0-5) allowed 1 run on 4 hits through 7 innings, but was saddled with the loss.

Whitmer said pitch location and variety were the keys to his best start of the season.

“I was able to work my fastball in,” Whitmer said. “I was able to get offspeed stuff over the plate early and late in the counts when it mattered.”

Missouri State junior starter Jon Harris outdueled Whitmer, throwing 7 2/3 of two-hit, scoreless baseball. Harris, the projected No. 4 overall 2015 draft pick by BaseballAmerica, showed MLB scouts in attendance what they came to see by striking out 10 Salukis and walking none. 

Harris left the game with two outs in the eighth and an 0-1 count on Saluki sophomore third baseman Ryan Sabo because of a blister on his pitching hand.

The Bears scored the game’s only run in the sixth inning on an RBI double by freshman third baseman Jake Burger.

Only two relievers saw action Friday night, neither allowed a baserunner. SIU sophomore right-hander Jacob Williams provided 2 innings of perfect relief to keep SIU in the game. MSU sophomore Bryan Young notched his 10th save, retiring all four batters he faced, striking out two.


Burger led all batters with 2 hits Friday.

SIU coach Ken Henderson said he was not disappointed with the narrow loss.

“It was a great college game,” Henderson said. “That was one of the best pitchers in all of college baseball. We battled him pitch for pitch. We just couldn’t find a way to score.”

Junior starter Matt Hall continued MSU’s mound dominance Saturday, throwing 7 innings of 2-hit shutout baseball in a 5-0 win. Hall (8-2) struck out 14 Salukis and walked three en route to the victory.

The Bears scored 4 runs in the third inning on Saluki senior Bryce Sablotny. Three of those came from Burger’s bases-loaded double. 

Sablotny (1-4) suffered the loss, throwing 4 innings while striking out two and walking three.

Burger drove in a game-high 3 runs Saturday. MSU junior catcher Matt Fultz led all batters with 3 hits.

Neither starter made it through the third inning in Sunday’s series finale, a 5-3 win for Missouri State.

SIU pushed 3 runs across in the bottom of the second from RBI singles by sophomore third baseman Ryan Sabo and freshman shortstop Chase Slone. 

Saluki sophomore starter Kyle Pruemer allowed MSU to tie the game 3-3 by allowing 2 runs in the top of the third.

The game would remain tied until the top of the sixth, when MSU senior shortstop Dylan Becker drove in the go-ahead run with a single to center field off SIU freshman reliever Michael Baird.

The Bears’ fourth run was charged to freshman Colin Holderman (2-2), who suffered the loss.

Missouri State junior Sam Perez (7-1) earned the win with 5 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. Young picked up his 11th save of the year and second of the series Sunday.

Becker, Sabo and SIU freshman catcher Nick Hutchins collected a game-high 3 hits.

Slone said this weekend’s series proved to SIU that it can play with the MVC’s best.

“I think we can beat them in the tournament,” Slone said. “It’s a team that I can see us being similar to in the future.”

SIU will travel to St. John’s for its final weekend series of the regular series Thursday to Saturday.

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