Bruins strike Salukis in blowout

By Thomas Donley, @TdonleyDE

Just a few hours after lightning struck the Mike Reis Press Box at Itchy Jones Stadium, the Belmont baseball team (17-12, 8-3 Ohio Valley Conference) struck SIU (5-26, 1-5) for an 11-1 win Tuesday night.
Sophomore starting pitcher Dom Veltri (2-2) earned the win for Belmont. Veltri settled in for four shutout innings after a first-inning hiccup allowed the Salukis to score first.
Freshman first baseman Logan Blackfan drove in his first run since May 13 with a first inning double to put SIU on top 1-0. 
Saluki junior starter Alex Lesiak needed just five pitches to dispose of Belmont in the first. He gave up 2 runs on his fourth pitch of the second, a two-run home run by sophomore designated hitter Nick Egli.
Lesiak (1-2) took the loss, allowing 4 runs in 3.1 innings. He allowed 7 hits and 2 walks. 
Lesiak said his control betrayed him after the first inning. 
“I struggled with command,” Lesiak said. “I just couldn’t get my breaking ball over, and that was the key in the second and third inning.”
His successors had little more success. Freshman relievers Colin Holderman and Michael Baird allowed 3 and 4 runs, respectively in 1.1 innings each.
Sophomore Chad Whitmer provided two scoreless innings of relief, and freshman Jack Granath pitched a scoreless inning in his collegiate debut.
Belmont’s bullpen slammed the door on SIU. No Saluki reached base after the fourth inning. Veltri, freshman Connor Etheridge and freshman Alex Ward kept the Salukis off the bases for the final five frames. Ward struck out all three batters he faced in the ninth.
Egli drove in 4 runs and finished the game with a home run and a triple. Four other Bruins contributed 2 hits.
Blackfan and sophomore right fielder J.C. DeMuri led SIU with 2 hits apiece. Blackfan said the work he has been doing offensively paid off at the plate tonight.
“I’ve been working a lot on slowing down and trying to see the ball better,” Blackfan said. “Hopefully I can get something going with that.”
Saluki coach Ken Henderson said his pitching staff failed to hold its own Tuesday.
“I thought we were competitive offensively, but then the game got out of reach,” Henderson said. We just didn’t pitch well enough.”
The Salukis play Arkansas State at 3:00 p.m. Wednesday at Itchy Jones Stadium.
Thomas Donley can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3311 ext. 269