CARBONDALE — The Southern Illinois University baseball team took advantage of 26 Western Illinois mistakes to beat the Fighting Leathernecks, 16-1, and sweep the Salukis home opening series Saturday afternoon.
“The story of the day was our starting pitcher giving us three very well pitched games this weekend,” said SIU coach Ken Henderson. “Dylan Givens gave us a quality start giving up just one run in seven innings. We didn’t our best day offensively again, but we’ll get that figured out. If our starters kept throwing like they did it gives us a chance.”
SIU (6-3) improved to 3-0 at home after beating Western Illinois 8-1, 6-1, in the opening doubleheader Friday afternoon. The Salukis hit the road Tuesday to take on the Murray State Racers at 3 p.m. followed by a Wednesday game at SEMO at 3 p.m. SIU returns home next weekend to host Northern Illinois on Friday at 3 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.
The Salukis were held to 10 hits, so they took advantage of 15 walks, four wild pitches, three hit batsmen, three errors and one passed ball, which lead to seven of the Salukis runs scored.
Givens gave up one run on four hits and one walk with six strikeouts on 96 pitches to improve to 2-0 on the season.
“Everything was working for me today,” Givens said. “I had a really good defense behind me, so I just let “Buck” (Colin Butkiewicz) call the game because we had a good relationship behind the plate. We made a lot of great pitches and let our defense do the work.”
Former Shawnee High School, Murphysboro American Legion, Rend Lake College and SEMO ballplayer Aiden McMahan was one of the hitting stars with his first home run and his first three RBIs as a Saluki.
The other hitting stars were first baseman Philip Archer with three hits in six at-bats and two RBIs and centerfielder Will LaRue with two hits in three at-bats and two RBIs, including a triple and two walks.
“I broke the ice with SIU and hopefully I will get some more opportunities and hopefully we roll this year,” McMahan said.
The Salukis took advantage of Leatherneck starting pitcher Justin Foy’s wildness in the bottom of the third, scoring fours runs on just one hit.
Foy had set down the first five Salukis he faced before walking Butkiewicz on four pitches, but got out the second on a foul pop to the catcher by McMahan. The sophomore retired Grey Epps on a ground ball to second to open the third when the right-hander lost his control.
The ninth man in the batting order Addison Fugitt got it started by drawing a walk on a 3-2 pitch. Foy then walked Nikola Vasic on a 3-2 pitch to face LaRue.
Foy got behind 1-0 on a high outside pitch, but his next delivery was more to LaRue’s liking as the switch-hitter lined it to the right centerfield wall to clear the bases with his second triple of the young season.
Foy then walked Ian Walters on four pitches. Walters then stole second on the first pitch to Alex Lyon and on a 3-2 pitch Foy uncorked a wild pitch to score LaRue and send Lyon to third. On the first pitch to Archer, the ball got away from the catcher allowing Walters to score from third.
Foy got out of the inning without any further damage by getting Archer five pitches later on a foul pop to third, but the Salukis led 4-0 on one hit, three walks, a wild pitch and a passed ball.
McMahan upped the lead to 5-0 in the fourth on a one-out home run to right field. One out later, Fugitt reached base for the second time with a base hit to right and Foy hit Vasic on a 2-0 pitch to end his stint on the mound.
“I had a terrible first at-bat getting beat on a fastball in on a 3-1 count with a guy on second base, so I told myself I wasn’t going to let that pitcher beat me with another fastball and luckily I got a good swing on 1-0 fastball down the middle,” McMahan said.
The Salukis batted around and then some in the eighth inning, sending 16 batters to the plate to score 10 runs on four hits, three errors, six walks and two hit batsmen while loading the bases six times. Five of the 10 runs came on three walks with the bases loaded, one wild pitch and an error.