CARBONDALE — Throwing strikes and making contact.
The Southern Illinois University baseball team used that fundamental approach in a 4-1 non-conference win over Southeast Missouri State in near gale conditions at Itchy Jones Stadium on Wednesday. Five Saluki pitchers combined on a two-hitter while Salukis stranded just four runners.
Starting pitcher Matt Steidl set the tone for SIU. He gave up a two-out single to SEMO shortstop Tyler Wilber in the first, but then retired the next seven hitters he faced. Through the next six innings, the Red Hawks failed to get a runner against Noah Farmer or Justin Yeager.
After SIU pitchers retired 21 hitters in a row, Sam Grace yielded a two-out walk to Alex Canty in the eighth.
“It was our most complete game of the year,” said SIU coach Ken Henderson. “We did everything well. We talked about it before the game, it’s a tough a hitting conditions as you’ll find. The wind is blowing straight in at 15-20 miles per hour, and the one thing you have to do on days like his is make teams earn things. You do that by throwing strikes. What a phenomenal job by our bullpen guys.”
After Steidl blanked SEMO over the first three innings, Farmer, a Massac County graduate, came on to retire all nine hitters he faced. A sophomore, Farmer has struggled this season. He entered the game with a 10.57 ERA and 10 walks in 7.2 innings.
"Me and Fin (pitching coach P.J. Finigan) have been working on a lot of stuff,” Farmer said. “Today it kind of came together a little bit and (we) saw a glimpse of what I can do. After my last start, that definitely felt good to get some confidence back.
“I was just trying to get ahead, use all my pitches when I needed to and got some strikeouts when I needed them. It was a good day.”
Farmer struck out three, but still navigated his three-inning stint on just 32 pitches.
In the meantime, the Salukis manufactured enough runs to win. SIU got a single run in the third when J.T. Weber painted the right field line for a double, and three pitches later Grey Epps striped the left field line for another double.
SIU scored twice more on just one hit in the fourth.
Will LaRue opened the inning with a double and went to third on an errant pickoff throw. He trotted home on Ian Walters’ sacrifice fly.
Alex Lyon attempted to bunt his way on base with one out, and wound up on second when starting pitcher Austin Sachse threw the ball into right field. After stealing third, Lyon scored on Philip Archer’s sacrifice fly.
“Offensively, on a day like this, you’re probably not going to put three to four hits together, you’re probably not going to have big innings,” Henderson said. “We scratched and clawed. I think every time we had an opportunity to score, we scored. We had a couple sac flies. Our speed and our aggressiveness on the bases helped us get a couple runs.”
SEMO finally got on the board in the ninth on Wilber’s second hit of the day. However, Corey Mitson got Austin Blazevic to fly out to end the game.
All told, the SIU bullpen allowed just one run and one hit over six innings.
“You get a little nervous,” Henderson said. “Is everybody going to have a good day? Is somebody going to have an off day. You know there aren’t going to be a lot of runs, so if one guy has an off day and gives up two or three runs, it’s going to be tough.”
The 10-5 Salukis travel to Champaign this weekend for a three-game set.
On Twitter: @LesWinkeler