Daily Egyptian

Red hot Redhawk bullpen shuts down Salukis

By Thomas Donley, @tdonleyDE

The SIU baseball team dropped its second straight game, a 6-4 loss at Southeast Missouri State on Tuesday night.

The Salukis (7-29, 3-6) rallied against SEMO (22-14, 13-5 Ohio Valley Conference) senior starter Garret Stockton but fizzled against the Redhawk bullpen.

Sophomore starter Austin McPheron (0-3) took the loss for SIU, despite improving upon his last outing, a 1/3 inning appearance where he hit three batters.

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McPheron lasted a season-high four innings in his third start of the season, allowing six runs on seven hits. He struck out one batter, walked one and hit another.

The Salukis got to Stockton in the fourth inning, plating three runs to cut the Redhawk lead to one. Senior left fielder Parker Osborne drove in his sixth run in five games with an RBI double in the frame. 

Stockton did not make it out of the fifth inning, giving the win to senior reliever Ryan Lenaburg (3-2).

Lenaburg threw two innings of one-hit shutout relief, striking out four Salukis and walking two.

Freshman right-hander Michael Baird provided four innings of stellar relief, allowing one run on four hits and tying a career high with seven strikeouts.

Baird’s only hiccup came when he loaded the bases on two hits and a walk with nobody out in the eighth inning. After a popout and a strikeout, he walked in the Redhawks’ seventh run before escaping the jam.

Baird, who lowered his ERA from 12.98 to 10.97 Tueday, said he was able to maintain his focus even after loading the bases.

“I was thinking ‘Next pitch,'” Baird said. “I had to get my team out of that jam to keep us in the game.”

Saluki coach Ken Henderson had praise for Baird after the game.

“That’s the Michael Baird we saw earlier in the year,” Henderson said. “That’s the best he’s thrown in at least a month. If he can video nine to throw like that down the stretch for us, that would be a huge bonus.”

As good as Baird was, SEMO freshman closer Matthew Wade was even better. Wade allowed only two baserunners in 2 1/3 scoreless innings to stifle SIU and pick up his fourth save.

Henderson said the Salukis’ failure to take full at-bats hurt its chances.

“I’m disappointed with our two-strike approach,” Henderson said. “That was the difference in the game. We didn’t compete hard enough.”

Osborne, who finished 1-for-4, now has driven in seven runs in his last six games. He said the regular playing time he has seen lately has helped his offense.

“I’ve been making adjustments at the plate,” Osborne said. “So I’m starting to see it better.”

Senior right fielder Tyler Rolland and junior catcher Taylor Martin also drove in runs for SIU. Sophomore second baseman Will Farmer led the Salukis with two hits.

Junior shortstop Branden Boggetto led SEMO with three hits, two of them doubles. Senior second baseman Jason Blum and junior designated hitter Garrett Gandolfo drove in two runs each for the Redhawks.

The Salukis play the Austin Peay State Governors at 3:00 p.m. Wednesday in Clarksville, Tenn. Sophomore Connor McFadden will take the hill for the Dawgs.

Thomas Donley can be reached at [email protected]

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