Daily Egyptian

Salukis drop three close ones to Dallas Baptist

By Thomas Donley, @tdonleyDE

The SIU baseball team dropped three games to No. 15 Dallas Baptist at Itchy Jones Stadium this weekend. 

The Patriots (32-9, 13-5) entered the series as the conference’s top offensive team, while the Salukis (10-35, 5-10) came in with the Valley’s highest team ERA. Despite this, each game was decided by 3 runs or fewer.

SIU coach Ken Henderson was proud of the way his team played.

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“I take consolation in how we played the whole weekend,” Henderson said. “This was a great college baseball series, all three games. At the end of the day, we just weren’t good enough to get it done.”

Sophomore Chad Whitmer took the mound Friday for his first career start, allowing 1 run on 3 hits through the first 5 innings against the team with the No. 2 RPI in the nation. 

The ace of the staff and usual Friday night starter, senior Aaron Hauge, left his April 17 start early. An MRA found a slight tear in the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow Thursday.

Whitmer (0-3) and freshman reliever Michael Baird combined to allow 5 runs in the top of the sixth inning that would turn out to make the difference.

Dallas Baptist junior starter Joseph Shaw (7-2) threw 7 innings of 3-hit shutout baseball before SIU pushed across 3 runs in the top of the eighth, capped by an RBI double by freshman designated hitter Logan Blackfan. 

Junior reliever Drew Smith shut down the Salukis for the final 1 1/3 innings. 

Four Patriots collected 2 hits Friday. Junior designated hitter Daniel Sweet collected a game-high 2 RBIs. 

Sophomore second baseman Will Farmer led SIU with 2 hits.

SIU coach Ken Henderson said Whitmer was outstanding in his first start.

“I’m awfully proud of Chad Whitmer,” Henderson said. “He threw well. He got ahead of hitters. He threw strikes and he competed. That was certainly a bright spot of the night.”

Whitmer said his nerves were affecting him before Friday’s game.

“I was a little nervous,” Whitmer said. “I didn’t know what to expect, but I just tried to stay in there and give my team a chance, and I thought I did a pretty good job of that.”

On Saturday, the Salukis held a lead after the seventh inning, but their bullpen let them down in a 5-4 loss.

Senior left fielder Parker Osborne put the Salukis on top 3-2 with a 2-run home run in the fifth, his second dinger of the season. 

Senior right fielder Tyler Rolland drove in an insurance run in the seventh with his second double of the game.

SIU senior starter Bryce Sablotny threw 7 1/3 innings, his longest outing of the season, allowing 3 runs. He left the game with a 4-2 lead and a runner at second with one out in the eighth.

Freshman reliever Ryan Netemeyer walked the first two batters he faced before giving up a game-tying 2-run double to senior third baseman Nash Knight.

On Friday, Henderson said big innings rarely happen without walks or errors because the best pitcher is harder to get hits off of. The same was true Saturday.

“I’ve preached that all year,” Henderson said. “That’s why we’ve lost 40 games. We don’t throw enough strikes.” 

Sablotny said the key to his success was mixing up what he threw the Patriot hitters.

“I tried to mix in my off-speed stuff to keep them off balance,” Sablotny said. “They’ve got guys who can swing it. Our guys just made a lot of plays.”

Junior catcher Daniel Salters hit a solo home run off Netemeyer in the ninth to give his team a 5-4 lead it did not relinquish.

The Patriots pulled away in the ninth inning of Sunday’s game to clinch the sweep in a 7-4 victory.

Dallas Baptist struck first with 2 runs in the third. SIU answered with two of its own in the bottom of the inning, but a 2-run home run by Salters in the top of the fourth put DBU back on top.

Patriot junior starter Sean Stutzman (5-0) retired the final 10 batters he faced after allowing 2 runs on 3 hits in the third. Stutzman struck out six batters and walked one.

Saluki sophomore starter Kyle Pruemer (0-5) was tagged for 5 runs, 3 of them earned through 5 2/3 innings. Pruemer struck out one batter and walked two.

SIU redshirt sophomore Anthony Shimkus provided 3 innings of shutout relief before allowing a 2-run home run to junior left fielder Justin Wall.

Patriot junior closer Brandon Koch nailed down his 10th save Sunday, striking out the game’s final seven batters.

Henderson had praise for Koch’s slider Sunday.

“It’s as good as you’ll see in college baseball,” Henderson said. “The guy’s one of the best in the country, shoot, maybe the best. You won’t see a slider better than that in the big leagues.”

Sweet and Knight collected a game-high 3 hits Sunday. Three Patriots drove in a game-high 2 runs.

Sophomore infielder Ryan Sabo and freshman center fielder Braden Mosley picked up 2 hits apiece for the Salukis. Mosley drove in 2 runs.

The Salukis hosts Illinois at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Itchy Jones Stadium to finish out a nine-game home stand.

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

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