Daily Egyptian

Saluki baseball suffers sweep in home-opening series

By Dillon Gilliland, Sports Reporter

The Saluki baseball team hosted the final game of its home-opening series against the Louisiana Monroe Warhawks on Sunday afternoon.

SIU could not overcome a four-run inning by ULM (9-2) and suffered a 7-4 loss that resulted in a series sweep for the Warhawks.

“There’s nothing good about losing,” coach Ken Henderson said. “But we will learn from it.”

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Southern showed promise in the first as it loaded the bases with no outs. However, behind a strikeout and a double-play, Louisiana Monroe retired SIU.

The Warhawks struck first in the game with a four-run inning in the second that set the tone on offense.

“We loaded up the bases, no one scored then gave up four runs,” Henderson said. “It’s not an ideal start for us.”

ULM’s fourth-inning rally began with back-to-back singles followed by a groundout that advanced all runners one base. Junior first baseman Brendan Jordan then lined a single to right field and drove in the first run of the game.

Then, junior designated hitter Cade Harper repeated with a single and advanced to third on an error that cleared the bases. Harper proceeded home on a fielder’s choice that gave ULM a 4-0 lead.

The Salukis found their first run of the game in the third inning after senior shortstop Connor Kopach reached on single up the middle. Kopach went on to steal second and third.

Junior second baseman Nikola Vasic batted in the shortstop with a sacrifice fly that made it 4-1.

Dylan Nelson
Senior short stop Connor Kopach throws the ball to first base Sunday, March 4, 2018, during the Warkhawks 13-7 win against the Salukis at Itchy Jones Stadium. (Dylan Nelson | @Dylan_Nelson99)

After SIU’s rally was suffocated, senior left fielder Turner Francis got things going for ULM in the fourth with a walk and a steal of second. Harper followed and drove Francis in with a single up the middle that stretched the lead to 5-2.

Southern added another run in the bottom of the fourth that started with a walk by junior right fielder Kenton Crawford. Senior designated hitter Hunter Anderson followed with a single and sophomore catcher Austin Ulick reached on fielder’s choice that moved Crawford to third.

Crawford then made his way to home on a sacrifice fly that narrowed the deficit to 5-2 after five innings of play.

The Salukis added two more runs in the final two innings, however, the Warhawks put up a two-run inning in the ninth that put the final nail in the coffin and gave them the 7-4 win.

“We keep battling back and forth,” senior first baseman Logan Blackfan said. “We just haven’t been able to close these games out.”

Junior starting pitcher Mason Hiser (0-2) took the loss for Southern after he allowed four runs — two earned — on four hits and a walk through two innings.

“He’s been good for us,” Henderson said. “He just wasn’t as sharp as we needed him to be.”

Freshman reliever Noah Farmer provided a spark for the Salukis in the game with 3.1 innings pitched with only two hits and a run.

“Our bullpen was phenomenal,” Henderson said. “When you have to pull your starter in the second, you have to put someone in there to eat up some innings.”

Southern was able to record 14 hits in the matchup, however, it could not get them across the plate as 12 Salukis were left on base.

“We hit the ball well today,” Kopach said. “We just couldn’t find that big hit.”

SIU (3-8) will take on the SEMO Redhawks in a one-and-done matchup on Tuesday. First-pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sophomore pitcher Brad Harrison will likely get the start for the Salukis.

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

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