Salukis snap losing streak by overthrowing Governors

By Thomas Donley, @TdonleyDE

While a suspect led police on a chase through Carbondale on Wednesday, the SIU baseball team was running away from Austin Peay State. 

Sophomore right fielder J.C. DeMuri gave the Salukis (4-19, 0-3) all the runs they would need on one swing in the first inning of a 14-3 non-conference win. 

DeMuri’s first career home run, a grand slam, came on the first pitch thrown by freshman reliever Zach Neff with two outs in the first inning. 

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“It feels good to get the first one out of the way,” DeMuri said.

Austin Peay (11-10, 5-4 Ohio Valley Conference) senior starter Zach Hall (1-4) lasted only 0.2 innings. After retiring the first two SIU batters, Hall allowed a single to freshman third baseman Greg Lambert and walked the next two batters before opening a bullpen carousel for Austin Peay coach Gary McClure. 

A lack of a mercy rule in the conference game resulted in a nine-inning game. Nine different Governors took the mound Wednesday, none lasting more than 2.1 innings. 

SIU opened the floodgates in the third inning. The first six Saluki batters reached base, including a two-run double by freshman catcher Nick Hutchins. Sophomore second baseman Will Farmer and Lambert drew back-to-back bases loaded hit-by-pitches, followed by a walk to sophomore designated hitter Jake Hand. 

Junior catcher Taylor Martin, pinch hitting for Hutchins, put the cap on SIU’s scoring with a solo home run in the eighth inning. 

Junior right hander Alex Lesiak (1-1) earned the win on the mound for SIU. Lesiak went 6.1 innings, allowing 2 runs and striking out 5 with 1 walk.

Lesiak said he began to trust his stuff more Wednesday night. 

“I’ve tried to do too much in the past,” Lesiak said. “I’ve got to just stay down in the zone and let them get themselves out instead of trying to blow the ball by everybody.” 

Saluki coach Ken Henderson said DeMuri’s grand slam gave his team the boost it needed. 

“J.C.’s hit was an unbelievable lift to our club,” Henderson said. “I just told our team, ‘One word: confidence.’  And from that point on, we played with confidence.”

McClure makes each of his pitchers run a mile for every walk or hit batsman he records. The Governors piled up plenty of mileage Wednesday night, walking eight batters and beaning another four.

Hutchins, freshman shortstop Chase Slone and sophomore second baseman Will Farmer led SIU with 3 hits apiece. Farmer and DeMuri each drove in 4 runs.

Sophomore third baseman Logan Gray and junior outfielder Kyle Blackburn led Austin Peay with 2 hits each. Gray hit a solo home run in the fourth.

SIU travels to Dozer Park in Peoria on Friday for three conference games against Bradley. Saluki junior lefty Aaron Hauge (2-2, 2.41 ERA) is the Saluki probable against junior Elliot Ashbeck (5-1, 2.78).

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

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