CARBONDALE — There was a strong Southern Illinois element Tuesday in SIU’s 7-6 win over Tennessee-Martin.

Carterville’s Brad Drust (3-2) threw 5 1/3 innings to pick up the win and Marion’s Austin Montgomery drove in three runs on four hits.

Drust got off to a rocky start, yielding three runs on just two hits in the first. He walked the first two hitters, both of whom scored.

“I was getting the ball up,” Drust said. “I wasn’t hitting my spots. They were close, but they weren’t there.

“I think I was just a little too ready to go. I finally got settled in after the first inning.”

Drust settled in well enough to retire 13 of the next 16 hitters. He was lifted after yielding a pair of sixth-inning singles.

“He did a good job after he got through the first two or three hitters,” said SIU coach Ken Henderson. “He gave our offense a chance to get going.”

The offense got a pair of runs back in the bottom of the inning, both scoring on Montgomery’s bases loaded single to right. Montgomery was credited with just one RBI on the play as UT-Martin right fielder Byron Johan bobbled the ball.

Montgomery singled home an insurance run in the second. He doubled in another run in the fourth.

“That was huge,” Henderson said. “They gave us some gifts in the first tinning. They let us back in the ballgame. It was like starting over from scratch.”

The Salukis tied the game at 3 when Jake Welch singled with one out, stole second and scored on Rennie Troggio’s hit. Troggio scored what proved to be the winning run on Matt Jones’ double. Jones scored easily on Montgomery’s second hit of the day.

“It was a pretty good day,” Montgomery said. “I’ll take that every day of the week.”

“I was just trying to hit what they gave me. I wasn’t trying to do too much today.”

The Salukis added single runs in the fourth and fifth innings, building a seemingly comfortable 7-3 lead.

However, things tightened up quickly in the seventh against Lee Weld.

Weld, who bailed Drust out of a sixth inning spot by getting Matt Haynes to line into an inning-ending double play, yielded five straight singles to open the seventh. He exited the game with the bases loaded, no one out and the Salukis clinging to a 7-5 lead.

Tyler Dray relieved, getting three straight pop outs.

Jacob Williams and Todd Eaton worked scoreless eighth and ninth innings to nail down the win. The Salukis are now 18-18 on the season.

The save was the 16th of Eaton’s career, third best all-time. He trails Bryant George and Al Levine.

Eaton allowed a bloop single in the ninth, but looked overpowering.

“We were hoping we wouldn’t have to use him,” Henderson said. “Once it got to be a save situation, he was our guy. He threw well. He filled up the zone.”

The Salukis travel to Creighton this weekend.

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