Perhaps the only thing more wild than the severe weather and winds that delayed the start of the game between SIU and Dallas Baptist was the sequence of events that occurred in the game’s final innings.
In a matchup that SIU senior starting pitcher Michael Baird was dominating early on, it appeared that the Salukis were well on their way to a victory over No. 25 Dallas Baptist (21-10, 3-1 MVC).
However, a howling breeze to right field helped the Patriots send two long balls over the right-field fence in a six-run seventh inning that eventually gave DBU a 7-4 victory.
After six full innings of work, Baird worked into a pickle in the seventh before he was relieved by freshman Trey McDaniel.
Pitching into the seventh inning, Baird gave up a single, allowed a batter to reach on a fielder’s choice and surrendered an RBI single to junior center fielder Jameson Hannah that cut Southern’s lead to 4-2.
With Baird still on the hook for the two runners on base, McDaniel forced a double play but allowed an RBI single to junior first baseman Kody Funderburk.
Still not out of the inning, McDaniel gave up another single and then a monstrous, go-ahead three-run homer to senior catcher Matt Duce. DBU still was not done as the next batter, freshman shortstop Jimmy Glowenke, launched a solo shot for a 7-4 advantage.
Baird finished the night with six innings pitched and allowed eight hits and two walks. He struck out six and was charged with three earned runs.
In the early going, it appeared that the lightning that held the game up for one hour and 15 minutes must have struck the bats of SIU, as sophomore right fielder Addison Fugitt got the Salukis on the board with a solo home run in the top of the first, his second homer this season.
Southern struck again in the second after sophomore catcher Austin Ulick walked and advanced to second on a balk. Freshman third baseman Grey Epps, who batted eighth in the game, drove in Ulick with an RBI single for a 2-0 lead.
In the fifth, the Salukis forced DBU junior starting pitcher MD Johnson from the game following two straight walks. In relief, senior Sean Boyle wiggled out of the jam, despite walking a batter of his own.
SIU went back to work in the sixth with a leadoff double by senior first baseman Logan Blackfan. Ulick then drove in Blackfan with a two-out RBI single that increased the lead to 3-0. Ulick finished the night 1-1 with an RBI and three walks.
The Patriots finally broke into the run column in their half of the sixth with a double and single that put two men on base. Then, with two outs, Glowenke singled home a run and reduced the lead to 3-1.
Southern got the run back in the seventh, however, when Fugitt laced a two-out double and proceeded to score on an RBI single by senior shortstop Connor Kopach, knocking Boyle out of the contest. Fugitt finished the game 3-5 with one RBI.
The RBI by Kopach was the last run that Southern would score in the game, as the 7-4 lead stuck for the Patriots following their explosive seventh-inning rally.
Junior pitcher Parker Towns took the win for DBU in relief. He went 1.1 innings with one walk and one strikeout.
McDaniel suffered the loss with four earned runs in one inning of work.
SIU (18-15, 4-3 MVC) will face off against DBU again on Saturday for game two of the series. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. Senior Jamison Steege is slated to start for the Salukis.
Sports editor Nathan Dodd can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @NathanMDodd.
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