The SIU baseball team dropped its fifth straight game Tuesday night 7-5 to No. 6 Illinois.
The Illini (37-6-1, 13-1 Big Ten) jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first five innings before the Salukis (10-36, 5-10) started to mount a comeback.
Illinois’ 18-game winning streak is the longest active in Division I baseball.
SIU coach Ken Henderson said his team’s offense was in a lull early.
“I thought we kind of sleepwalked through the first four innings,” Henderson said. “Once we woke up and got going, I thought we played really well from there.”
Illinois struck first with 2 runs in the first inning. Junior catcher Jason Goldstein and senior first baseman Devid Kerian picked up an RBI each.
A solo home run by Illini sophomore designated hitter Matt James and a subsequent walk chased sophomore starter Colin Holderman (1-1) out in the fourth inning. Holderman suffered the loss, allowing 5 runs on 6 hits in 3 innings pitched.
Illinois senior starter Rob McDonnell (6-1) allowed 3 runs in 6 innings of work, striking out six and walking two.
Saluki freshman shortstop Chase Slone put his team on the board with a 2-run double in the fifth inning.
SIU scored 3 runs — all on groundouts to second base — in the next 2 innings to cut the Illini lead to 7-5.
Sophomore reliever Jacob Williams kept the Salukis in the game with 2 no-hit innings in the seventh and eighth.
Illini junior reliever Nick Blackburn picked up his third save of the year, retiring both batters he faced.
Four Illinois hitters picked up 2 hits. Kerian and James led the Illini with 2 RBIs each.
Slone and freshman center fielder Braden Mosley both collected 2 hits. Slone drove in a game-high 3 runs.
With a strong orange-and-blue-clad showing on hand, Harrisburg natives Reid and Ryne Roper went a combined 1-for-7 for Illinois.
SIU’s last four losses have come to ranked teams.
Illinois won the season series 3-1.
The Salukis travel to Evansville for a three-game series starting at 6 p.m. Friday at Braun Stadium.
Thomas Donley can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3311 ext. 269.