CARBONDALE — The Southern Illinois University baseball team exploded for five runs on six consecutive hits in the seventh inning to win a come-from-behind 10-6 game over Austin Peay in a non-conference game that was pushed back a day because of the storms that hit the region Tuesday.
"It wasn’t the prettiest game we’ve played all year, but we found a way to win," said SIU coach Ken Henderson. "We ground out at-bats and swung it pretty well. We did a lot of good things — we were very aggressive on the bases with seven steals."
SIU (15-13) won its fifth game in its last six and improved to 6-0 against Ohio Valley Conference teams during its mid-week schedule.
"It was getting frustrating because we score one run in four straight innings, but left 10 guys on base," Henderson said. "I kept saying let’s put up a crooked number and finally we found a way to do that. We were down 5-3, but this club never panics."
The Salukis banged out 17 hits against seven Governor pitchers, finishing with six players with two or more hits, led by left fielder Alex Lyon with three hits, three runs scored and a RBI. The junior also tied a team record with four stolen bases in a single game after stealing second and third in the fifth and seventh innings.
"I didn’t know that," Lyon said after the game. "I just picked up on their tendencies and took the bases. I picked up on that lefty’s (Greg Leban) glove placement to tell what he was about to do, so I got good jumps."
SIU trailed 5-4 heading into the bottom of the sixth when Addison Fugitt led off with a bloop single to left. Connor Kopach followed with a line drive to left and Logan Blackfan tied the score with a bouncer to right, knocking Austin Peay’s fourth pitcher, Josh Rye, out of the game.
Lyon greeted Ethan Clark with a ground ball to left to give the Salukis the lead. Drew Curtis followed with a line drive to center to drive in another run and Grey Epps kept the rally going with a bloop single to right to drive in the fifth run.
Noah Farmer (2-1) got the win in relief of Dylan Givens. The freshman right-hander took over in the fifth and gave up a two-run home run, but settled down to retire seven of the next nine batters.
Henry Boeckmann set down the side in the eight on three strikeouts, but got into trouble in the ninth loading the bases with one out on two walks and a base hit. Trey McDaniel was brought in and the freshman right-hander got the second out on a pop fly to first.
A run scored on a fielder’s choice to third to bring Imani Willis, who had two hits, to the plate as the tying run. McDaniel fell behind 3-0, but recovered to strike him out and earn the first save of his collegiate career.
"I just wanted to get two outs, so I was just trying to pound the zone and get ahead," McDaniel said. "On the final batter I was behind, so I knew I had to come back with three strikes, and even though my slider is usually my putout pitch, I had to throw fastballs."
Givens got off to a great start setting the Governors down in order in the first on 14 pitches on three fly balls, but got into trouble in the second when Nick Walker led off with a double off the centerfield wall. One out later, John McDonald hit Givens’ first pitch up on the ground up the middle to give Austin Peay the lead. McDonald finished with four RBIs.
The Salukis tied the game in the bottom of the second starting against Brandon Vial with back-to-back leadoff singles by Lyon and Curtis. Lyon scored when J.T. Weber hit into a double play to tie the game.
The Salukis took the lead in the third against Harley Gollert. Kenton Crawford led off with a bloop single to right. One out later, Fugitt beat out a bunt to third. Gollert then walked Kopach to load the bases and forced in the tying run by hitting Blackfan on an 0-1 pitch. However, Lyon struck out and Curtis hit into a fielder’s choice to leave the bases loaded.
The Governors retook the lead in the fourth loading the bases with no outs on two throwing errors by Weber wrapped around a base hit by Willis. Givens got the first two outs on pop flies to shallow right on which the third base coach didn’t test the throwing arm of Crawford.
Givens got ahead of Wilson 0-2, but two pitches later Wilson hit a line drive that barely missed Givens as it headed to center field to drive in two runs. Givens stranded the remaining two runners on a ground ball to short.
Austin Peay replaced the pitcher again in the fourth and Weber greeted Tyler Thompson with a double off the right field wall. Austin Ulick followed with a base hit to left. Crawford hit a high fly ball to left deep enough for Weber to tag and score to tie the game.
Nikola Vasic followed with a ground ball to left to put runners at the first and second. Thompson struck out Fugitt and struck out Kopach, but the catcher dropped the ball loading the bases to bring Blackfan to the plate. However, the first baseman lined out to center to strand three base runners for the second straight inning leaving the score tied 3-3.
Farmer took over for Givens in the fifth and immediately gave up the lead when he walked the leadoff batter and one out later gave up a home run to left by McDonald. Farmer settled down and pitched around a two-out single to get out of the inning.
The Salukis cut the lead to one in their fifth when Rye walked Lyons to leadoff the inning and he scored on a two-out error by third baseman on a hard hit ground ball by Crawford.
After Farmer set down the side in the sixth on nine pitches the Salukis punished Rye and his replacement Ethan Clark for five runs on six consecutive hits and two walks to take the lead for good, 9-5. With the bases loaded and two outs Leban came in to get Kopach on a fly ball to right to strand the bases loaded for the third time.
SIU scored its last run in the eighth against Ricky Heagarty loading the bases with no outs. One out later Ulick scored on a sacrifice fly by Kopach.
The Salukis have teamed up with Mid-America Transplant during National Donate Life Month to raise awareness about organ, eye and tissue donation while honoring and celebrating organ and tissue donors, donor families, and transplant recipients by wearing blue jerseys with a green tint against the Governors. The Salukis will wear their special jerseys on their mid-week games for the entire month of April.