Daily Egyptian

Saluki baseball suffers two losses to open season

By Dillon Gilliland

The SIU baseball team got off to a rocky start in its first two games of the season on Friday and Saturday.

In the two games in Oxford, Alabama, the Salukis fell to the Jacksonville State Gamecocks (2-0) 7-4 and 10-9.

On Friday, senior pitcher Michael Baird toed the rubber for the Salukis. After a scoreless frame in the first, Baird served up a two-run home run to sophomore first baseman Andrew Naismith.

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The Salukis got a run back in the top of the fourth when senior first baseman Logan Blackfan swatted a solo homer over center field.

In the bottom of the fourth, Baird allowed a second home run to Naismith that pushed JSU’s lead to 3-1. Baird lasted 4.2 innings and allowed six hits, four earned runs, three walks and struck out four.

The Gamecocks extended their lead in the fifth with a two-run homer from senior designated hitter Trent Simpson.

Blackfan hit his second homer in the top of the sixth that narrowed the deficit to 5-2. He finished 3-4 with two homers and three RBI.

Following a JSU RBI double and single in the sixth and seventh inning, respectively, the Salukis eventually fell 7-4.

In Saturday’s matchup, the Salukis got the ball rolling in the top of the first as senior infielder Conor Kopach reached early off a base hit. Kopach followed up with a steal of second.

Blackfan batted Kopach in as he reached third base on an error from the outfield.

JSU responded in the bottom of the second as junior catcher Nic Gaddis reached on a double and was batted in immediately off a single to right field.

The Gamecocks followed up in the third with back to back doubles that gave them a 2-1 advantage over the Salukis.

After two scoreless innings, SIU junior infielder Alex Lyon reached on a double. Freshman infielder J.T. Weber followed with a  two-run home run that gave the Salukis a 3-2 lead.

Senior designated hitter Drew Curtis followed with an eight-pitch at-bat that ended in a homer to deep left-center which gave Southern the 4-2 lead.

SIU continued to grind out more runs as Lyon reached on a walk, followed by an immediate steal.

Lyon didn’t stay on base for long as Blackfan sent one to deep to right field for a two-run home run, SIU’s third homer of the game and his third of the season.

Then, sophomore outfielder Addison Fugitt reached first on an infield single, followed by SIU’s fourth steal of the game.

Sophomore catcher Austin Ulick drove in Fugitt with a single to left field, giving Southern a 7-2 lead.

With three scoreless innings in the books, Jacksonville State began to fight its way back into the game as junior outfielder Matthew Hammers teed off a two-run homer to left field.

After a single and steal by JSU senior infielder Clayton Daniel, senior infielder Taylor Hawthorne drove him in on an RBI single.

With the score at 7-5 and sophomore infielder Andrew Naismith on first, Gaddis doubled home two runs and tied the game up at seven.

Early in the eighth, Weber and Curtis reached base for SIU on a walk and a throwing error, respectively.

The two Salukis were batted in by Ulick as he put up a two-run single into left field that gave Southern a 9-7 lead.

After a couple of singles in the bottom of the eighth, Hawthorne knocked a three-run homer out of the park that gave JSU the 10-9 lead.

Southern could not get anything going in the ninth and suffered a one-two-three inning that sealed the game.

The Salukis (0-2) will take one last stab at the Gamecocks on Sunday with junior Mason Hiser making the start. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.

Sports reporter Dillon Gilliland can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @DillonGilliland.

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