Daily Egyptian

Salukis down SIUE Cougars in bullpen battle

By Adam Warfel, Sports Editor

Southern escaped with a 7-6 victory over SIUE today behind four shutout innings from the bullpen, and a hit by pitch which led to what would be the game winning run.

The Salukis were looking to notch their eighth win at Itchy Jones Stadium with their lone home loss last weekend against Northern Illinois.

Junior pitcher Mason Hiser made the start for SIU, coming off his best start of the year in his last appearance against Austin Peay going eight innings and only giving up two runs.

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Hiser gave up a homerun to senior outfielder Dustin Woodcock in the first inning to give the Cougars an early 1-0 lead.

After the first batter for Southern (11-8) flied out to center junior infielder Ian Walters got a walk and sophomore infielder Grey Epps was hit by a pitch, senior catcher Aiden MacMahan then drove an RBI single on the right side of the field to bring Walters home.

Sophomore infielder JT Weber followed the MacMahan single with a sacrifice fly to center field to bring Epps home and give the Salukis the 2-1 lead after one inning.

Senior outfielder Kenton Crawford stole second base then advanced to third base on a passed ball, senior infielder Nikola Vasic then beat out an infield single bringing Crawford home to make it 3-1 after two innings.

Southern threatened to add to their lead in the third inning with the bases loaded with two outs in the bottom of the third but sophomore outfielder Brad Hudson flied out to center to end the threat with SIU leading 3-1.

A triple into the right field corner brought home a runner for the Cougars (6-11) to cut into the Saluki lead in the top of the fourth, but Hiser limited the damage to one run as SIU lead 3-2.

An error and defensive miscues put a Cougar baserunner on third which SIUE then capitalized on with a double to center to knot the game up at 3-3 in the fifth inning.

MacMahan roped a single for the Salukis in the fifth, and Weber then doubled just down the left field foul line to bring MacMahan home, a bunt single by Hudson brought Weber home as SIU retook a 5-3 lead after five innings.

Sophomore pitcher Noah Farmer came in to replace Hiser in the sixth inning as Hiser went five innings giving up two earned runs on four hits to go along with four strikeouts.

“Kudos to him for grinding through it on a day where he didn’t maybe have his best stuff,”Head coach Ken Henderson said.

A hit by pitch by Farmer and a two run home run into left center knotted the score back up for SIUE at 5-5 in the sixth inning.

Junior pitcher Justin Yeager came in to replace Farmer with runners on first and third after Farmer was unable to record an out.

The Cougars brought a runner home on a bunt to regain their first lead of the game since the top of the first, but Yeager then recorded two consecutive strikeouts to end the inning as Southern trailed 6-5.

An error by SIUE on a pick off attempt by the pitcher to the first baseman brought Vasic to third, Walters then pushed a single through the right side of the field to bring him home and knot the score back up at 6-6,

With the bases loaded in the seventh Vasic was hit in the hand by a pitch to bring Archer home and take a one point lead.

Vasic finished two for four on the day with two runs batted in including the one where he was hit by the pitch, which resulted in being the game winning run.

“We got to build off something, and I think today is a good game to build off of going into the weekened,”Vasic said.

Yeager came out in the eighth inning after walking the first batter he faced. Freshman pitcher Sam Grace came in to replace him as Yeager pitched two innings giving up one walk to go along with two strikeouts.

The work by Yeager earned him his first career win.

“It feels really good, apparently this is my first career win, so it felt pretty good,” Yeager said.

Sophomore pitcher Trey McDaniel replaced Grace in the ninth after Grace went one inning and issued one strikeout.

McDaniel closed out the game with a flyout to earn the save and a 7-6 win marking the eighth win for the Salukis at Itchy Jones Stadium.

The bullpen pitched well for Southern today as three pitchers threw four innings giving up only two hits, with four strikeouts.

“The entire bullpen, Yeager, Grace and McDaniel threw four shutout innings,”Henderson said.”Obviously that’s huge, all those guys did a great job.”

SIU will be back in action Friday as they play Morehead State at 1pm at Itchy Jones Stadium.

Sports editor Adam Warfel can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter at @Warfel_Adam.

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