CARBONDALE — The Southern Illinois University baseball team jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but Louisiana Monroe sent 12 men to the plate in the second inning to score seven runs, and the Warhawks held on for a 13-7 win in the second game of SIU’s three-game home opening series on Saturday afternoon at Itchy Jones Stadium.
"Lot of mental mistakes," said SIU coach Ken Henderson. "We were ready to go and had a great first inning and then we go out and give up a seven-spot, and that should never happen. We made four or five mistakes in that inning and a couple mental mistakes, like throwing to the wrong base on a ground ball, that were huge defensively, and just didn’t pitch around them."
Offensively, SIU (3-7) out-hit the Warhawks 18 to 11, but stranded 12 base runners, including five at third base, and lost three runners on the base paths. In addition, the Salukis struck out seven times, with four coming with runners in scoring position, including twice with a runner at third.
"Despite the score this was best day offensively by far all year, however, we’re doing some things that are just not good baseball — we can’t lose runners," Henderson said. "We had 18 hits and seven runs and you can’t have that. We also hit a lot balls right at people. We look like the offensive club we’re going to be, but we just have to clean some things up."
Shortstop Connor Kopach, second baseman Nikola Vasic and left fielder Alex Lyon led the Saluki attack with three hits each.
Defensively SIU committed two errors and numerous smaller fielding mistakes that led to six unearned runs. The six Saluki pitchers issued 10 walks and hit three batsmen.
"It’s not always about the hit column, but it’s about who can score more runs at the end of the game," said ULM coach Michael Federico. "We took advantage of some mistakes that they made with some walks and hit batsmen and some things like that. We talk about that every day."
The Salukis jumped on Kyle Backofen (2-1) in the bottom of the first. Kopach led off with a base hit to left and Vasic followed with a bouncer up the middle to put runners at the corners with no outs.
Lyon hit Backofen’s first pitch to left for the first out, but deep enough for Kopach to tag and score from third. Logan Blackfan followed with a base hit to right and Kenton Crawford beat out a bunt to load the bases with one out.
Hunter Anderson made it 2-0 on another sacrifice fly to the same spot in deep left. The remaining runners were stranded at first and second when Weber fouled out to the third baseman.
SIU’s starting pitcher Jamison Steege (1-1) came into the game with a sparkling 1.29 ERA in his first two starts, including an eight-inning shutout in his last outing. The senior left-hander had given up just nine total hits with six strikeouts and no walks in his previous 14 innings of work.
"Jamison has been really, really good for us all year," Henderson said. "I guarantee you I wouldn’t want to be who faces him next Saturday because he will be awfully, awfully good. He just had a bad outing and that happens. Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time he pitches around those mistakes."