SIU (12-13) banged out 22 hits on the day, which saw Saluki coach Kerri Blaylock record her 500th career win in the nightcap.
“Every time you reach a milestone, all it is is a bunch of memories and they come flooding back,” said Blaylock, who is in her 14th season as head coach and 23rd with the program. “I remember win No. 1 like it was yesterday.
“I could tell you where you were and I could tell you where we played, so 500’s here and I told (the players) that I would like to get to 525 or 530.”
Reaching the milestone against the Billikens appeared in doubt when St. Louis (10-11) took a 5-0 lead in the first game and a 3-1 advantage in the second. But SIU scored four runs in the fifth inning of the opener and put up six in the fourth of the second contest.
“When you get a lefty, you don’t see a lot of them and we hadn’t this season,” Blaylock said of Billikens southpaw pitcher Brianna Lore. “With a lefty, you have to let (the batting order) go through one time and I went up to Michelle Bradley and told her to just have a good at-bat.”
Bradley certainly did, hitting a solo home run, her third, to start SIU’s rally in the opener. The Salukis scored four runs on the homer and three doubles and then tied the game at 5 on a wild pitch in the sixth to force extra innings.
“The home run was actually unintentional,” Bradley said. “I had just talked to (assistant coach) Jen (Sewell) the at-bat before that and she said to focus on the bottom of the ball because that pitcher had complete down-ball spin, almost like a dropball.”
With the international tiebreaker, which puts a runner automatically at second base in each half-inning, in force, SIU finally got the winner in the bottom of the ninth on a Morgan Barchan RBI single.
“Morgan and Michelle are having great senior years thus far,” Blaylock said. “I hope now we’re getting some leadership things taken care of and hopefully, we can get on a roll.”
After another rough first few innings in the nightcap, the Saluki offense came alive again in run-ruling St. Louis in six innings. Allie VadeBoncouer, who has struggled a bit at the plate this season, went 2-for-4 with four RBIs to lead SIU.
SIU will return to Missouri Valley Conference play on Saturday and Sunday against Northern Iowa (11-16, 1-1 MVC) in a series that was originally scheduled to be played in Cedar Falls. Due to forecasted inclement weather, the three games were moved to Carbondale and the Salukis will be the away team and bat first.
First pitch of Saturday’s doubleheader is scheduled for noon.
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