Daily Egyptian

Saluki baseball sweeps Illinois State in doubleheader

By Dillon Gilliland, Sports Reporter

Saluki baseball opened up conference play with a doubleheader against the Illinois State Redbirds on Friday afternoon.

SIU swept the doubleheader, taking a 6-4 and a 7-5 win against Illinois State (9-13, 0-2 MVC).

Game 1

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The Salukis found themselves trailing early in the third inning as the Redbirds put up a double, followed by a single for an early 1-0 lead.

SIU had an immediate response as senior first baseman Logan Blackfan sent a three-run home run over the wall for his sixth home run of the season. Blackfan finished the day 2-4 with four RBI.

After three runs by Illinois State reclaimed a one-run lead, SIU bounced back in the eighth as junior second baseman Nikola Vasic and freshman third baseman Grey Epps walked to put men on first and second.

With back-to-back RBI singles from senior shortstop Connor Kopach and Blackfan, the Salukis took a 5-4 lead after eight. Kopach finished the contest 3-4 with one run, one RBI and one stolen base.

Southern was not done yet, as Epps sent a homer over the left field wall that put the final nail in the coffin, giving the team a 6-4 win. Epps finished 1-3 with two runs, one RBI, one walk and one home run — his first career homer as a Saluki.

Senior starting pitcher Michael Baird (2-2) lasted seven innings and earned the win, giving up eight hits and four earned runs.

Senior closer Ryan Netemeyer earned his 31st career save, breaking the all-time saves record at SIU.

Game 2

The Redbirds struck first in the second inning as they put two men on first and second and followed with a single and a double for three quick runs.

SIU answered right back in the third, as the Salukis put men on first and second who came around to score on a triple from Vasic to bring them within one. With a sacrifice fly by Kopach, Vasic scored and tied the game. Vasic finished 2-5 with two runs and two RBI.

After a walk, Blackfan and junior left fielder Alex Lyon put up back-to-back singles for one last run for a 4-3 lead.

In the fifth, Southern put men on first and third. Kopach then doubled to score one runner as the other scored on an RBI single by senior designated hitter Drew Curtis.

Illinois State put up two more runs in the final innings, but it was not enough as SIU took the 7-5 win and swept the doubleheader.

Senior starting pitcher Jamison Steege (4-1) earned the win after pitching 6.1 innings, while giving up three hits and four earned runs with three walks and four strikeouts.

Netemeyer earned another save on the day for his 32nd career save.

Southern (14-12, 2-0 MVC) will conclude the three-game series against ISU tomorrow at 2 p.m. Sophomore starting pitcher Brad Harrison (3-1, 2.88 ERA) will get the start.

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

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