SIU relies on long ball, beats Evansville 4-3

By Brent Meske, @brentmeskeDE

In a battle of power instead of finesse, the Salukis and Purple Aces combined for 4 home runs, but SIU walked away with the win – and with it a winning home record for the 34th straight year.

Coach Kerri Blaylock was not happy with the team’s performance.

“We did not play very well,” she said. “But I heard some great leadership in the huddle and they got themselves back.” 

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Evansville started the scoring in the top of the fourth inning when senior second baseman Mariah Ferguson scored an unearned run as sophomore center fielder Courtney Land reached on a fielder’s choice. 

SIU did not take long to respond and answered with 3 runs in the bottom half of the inning. Sophomore left fielder MerriAnne Patterson doubled and was driven in by sophomore first baseman Shaye Harre’s fourth home run of the year.

One pitch later, freshman catcher Sydney Jones hit her team-leading seventh home run of the season to extend the Saluki lead. 

The Purple Aces played a game of “anything you can do, I can do better” as sophomore designated players Danielle Freeman and Ferguson hit back-to-back home runs. 

With the game tied at three, SIU senior Katie Bertelsen and Evansville freshman relief pitcher Cecilia Dopart settled in. Dopart entered the game after three innings from junior starter Amanda Blankenship who finished the game with 3 runs allowed on 4 hits, 1 walk and 3 strikeouts. 

Dopart (1-10) suffered the loss with 1 unearned run allowed on 4 hits, 1 walk and 3 strikeouts in 4 innings. 

Bertelsen (15-12) finished the game with 3 runs, 2 earned, on 9 hits, 1 walk and 5 strikeouts. 

In the bottom of the sixth, sophomore pinch hitter Jessa Thomas hit a go-ahead RBI single to right center field to score freshman pinch runner Jessica Heese. It was Thomas’ second of her career. 

Thomas, who planned to bunt in her at-bat, said missing the bunt was stressful but Heese moving up helped lower the pressure. 

“I was 2-2 and knew I had to level down because I had swung at balls up in the previous at-bat,” she said. “I decided to stay through it on a down ball.” 

Bertelsen returned to the circle in the top of the seventh and induced three ground outs to put away the Purple Aces. 

SIU travels to Indiana State for a weekend series beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday against the Sycamores who are No. 5 in the MVC. 

Brent Meske can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3311 ext. 269. 

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