CARBONDALE — Camden Duzenack hit the bottom third of the baseball about as hard as he could have in the ninth inning Friday, but opened the door to Ryan Netemeyer's record-setting save at Jones Stadium.
After walking Tim Millard on four pitches to start the ninth inning, SIU's third-year closer got Duzenack to pop out to second base on one that seemed to go higher than the lights for the first out of the inning. Dallas Baptist got the tying run to the plate, but fell 4-1 in the first game of a three-game set after Luke Bandy lined out to right fielder Ryan Smith with two on.
Netemeyer, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound right-hander, sewed up his 14th save of the season for a new school record. He broke Al Levine's record set in 1990 after he found his rhythm following the four-pitch pass.
"After that, I really got a feel for it, especially with my fastball," Netemeyer said. "When you get leadoff walks like that, it helps to rely on your defense, and when you have a defense like that it makes it a lot easier."
Netemeyer didn't strike anybody out, and didn't need to to hold off the Patriots (25-16, 6-4 Missouri Valley Conference). Dallas Baptist finished 0 of 11 at the plate with runners on base after pinch hitter Camryn Williams flew out to right and Smith was able to throw up his glove on the run and stab Bandy's drive toward the wall. Bandy homered over the left-field wall in the eighth for Dallas Baptist's only run.
SIU starter Chad Whitmer (5-3) struck out eight and walked two in eight solid innings. The senior righty allowed five hits, three of them for extra bases, but turned away the Patriots at nearly every turn.
Jameson Hannah doubled to start the sixth, but never reached third base. Whitmer got Devlin Granberg to ground out to third base and induced a ground ball off the bat of Austin Listi that turned into a fielder's choice. Hannah tried to go to third instead of going back to second, and was tagged out in a rundown. When Evan Sandmann flew out to left on the next pitch, Whitmer and the Salukis (23-20, 6-4) escaped.
"A lot of runners on, and a lot of runners in scoring position, too, so, you gotta tip your hat to him," Dallas Baptist coach Dan Heefner said. "He's a good pitcher. He's been good his whole career, and he's very competitive, and when he got into those situations I thought he made some really good pitches, too. But, we just need to kind of chip away. Get a run here, get a run there, and then that game is a lot different."
Netemeyer earned his 14th save on 16 chances to pull within three of Bryant George's career record of 30 set in 2010. The Belleville native moved into a tie for the NCAA lead in saves with Brian Glowicki of Minnesota and Spencer Price of Mississippi State.
SIU coach Ken Henderson had hoped for a quick 1-2-3 inning in the ninth with the threat of rain looming, but never lost faith in his third-year closer.
"It's not always the cleanest thing in the world," Henderson said. "It's one of those things where it's weird. He gets to where all of a sudden he gets a feel for the strike zone. When he walks a guy it's always the first guy, second guy. Once he gets an out, once he gets that first out and finds a feel for the zone, then I feel comfortable that he's OK."
The two teams fought through a 51-minute rain delay after moving the start time up five-and-a-half hours. SIU and Dallas Baptist will try to fit in a doubleheader Saturday beginning at 11 a.m. with the threat of heavy rain most of the day.