CARBONDALE — Aiden McMahan just missed hitting for the cycle, and SIU's bullpen allowed one hit in 3 1/3 innings to help the Salukis capture their second top-50 win this week.
McMahan, the starting catcher who entered Friday night's series opener against Evansville with five extra-base hits, went 3 for 4 in SIU's 8-6 victory. McMahan doubled in the second inning, drove in three runs with a triple into the right field-center gap in the third, and homered in the fifth. The senior from Wolf Lake missed becoming the first Saluki to hit for the cycle in over 19 years when he popped out to the third baseman in the seventh.
"I was thinkin' a little bit, but nobody said anything. The guy threw a good pitch," said McMahan, who was trying to become the first SIU player to hit for the cycle since Sal Frisella did in April of 2000 against Indiana State. "He threw me a left-on-left slider and he got me, so, it happens. I'm not that worried about that."
McMahan drove in a career-high six runs, the most since Hunter Anderson drove in six at Murray State in 2018. His two-run homer put SIU (20-22, 2-11 Missouri Valley Conference) ahead 8-4 and proved to be the winning runs.
Evansville (21-20, 8-5) got to Saluki starter Mason Hiser in the third for three runs and closed the gap to 8-6 in the sixth before Justin Yeager shut it down. Yeager entered with two outs in the sixth and allowed one hit in 2 1/3 innings. Closer Trey McDaniel earned his 10th save with a perfect ninth inning.
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"Obviously, McMahan had an outstanding game. We scored eight runs and he drove in six of 'em," SIU coach Ken Henderson said. "Not very often do you see a guy miss the cycle by a single, but, just had a great game, and then our bullpen. Three-and-a-third, one hit and no walks out of our bullpen was the other key to the game."
The Salukis beat Illinois 12-3 Tuesday to snap a 10-game losing streak. The Fighting Illini entered that game ranked 20th in the RPI. SIU then beat Murray State on Wednesday night at Jones Stadium, 8-3, before capturing its first three-game winning streak since mid-March against the Purple Aces. Evansville, which entered the series a game back of MVC co-leaders Illinois State and Indiana State, was No. 49 in the RPI.
McMahan raised his average 44 points after his big day, and was happy he was able to celebrate a victory, too. Game 2 of the three-game series is scheduled for 4 p.m. today, weather-permitting.
"It was good, because I got a lot of pitches to hit, and we did a good job of getting on base and I, luckily, found a couple of gaps, and scored a lot of runs," he said. "We came out ahead, so that's really what matters."