Dawgs get last laugh against SEMO

Dawgs get last laugh against SEMO

By Aaron Graff

The Saluki baseball team needed the win Tuesday night to avoid falling below .500 for the first time since its 1-2 start to the season.

SIU (21-20, 3-9) hosted the Ohio Valley Conference leading Southeast Missouri State University (27-12, 17-4) for the second matchup of the two schools this season. The Redhawks won the first game earlier this month, but the Salukis pulled out a 5-2 win behind strong pitching.

Freshman right-handed pitcher Austin McPheron made his fourth start of the season; McPheron also started against the Redhawks April 8 when he had his first loss. He said he was focused on getting back at them Tuesday.


“The last time I faced them I missed my spots a lot early,” McPheron said.

SEMO started the scoring in the third inning, but the Salukis took a 3-1 lead in the fourth. The Redhawks cut that lead in half in the sixth. McPheron departed after six innings in position to win his third game of the season.

He gave up only three hits and one earned run.

“Coming in I wanted to start,” McPheron said. “When I got that opportunity, I was really glad and I wanted to prove to everybody that that’s where I deserved to be.”

McPheron said he had more left, but coach Ken Henderson took him out because he walked the leadoff hitter in the sixth inning.

“He wanted one more,” Henderson said. “To be honest, it was great to see him ask for one more.”

Henderson said McPheron had more room to grow than any of the other recruits this season. Henderson said McPheron is extremely coachable and had one of the best fall seasons on the team.


Senior Jake Welch was moved from the leadoff spot to the third hole last week, and has seven hits from that spot. He said freshman center fielder Dyllin Mucha and freshman second baseman Connor Kopach, who bat ahead of Welch, give him tips about pitchers.

Welch hit his second home run Tuesday, more than any other player at Itchy Jones Stadium.

“I was a little early to it, that’s why I pulled it,” Welch said. “I was able to get the barrel on it and thank God the wind was blowing out.”

The Salukis scored two more runs in the seventh to extend their lead to 5-2. Senior Tyler Dray came in the ninth and earned his seventh save of the year and 16th of his career.

“One of things about this club is they show up every day to play,” Henderson said. “We got beat Friday night bad. Saturday, we should have won and we came back Sunday ready to play. We needed to get out here and win a game.”

Freshman third baseman Will Farmer and junior outfielder Tyler Rolland each recorded two hits.

The Salukis play a three-game series this weekend at Illinois State University.

Aaron Graff can be contacted at [email protected], on Twitter @Aarongraff_DE or 536-3311 ext. 269