CARBONDALE — When SIU or Evansville couldn't end Thursday's elimination game at the Missouri Valley Conference tournament beyond a reasonable doubt, video replay did it for them.
SIU's Nikola Vasic was originally called out in the bottom of the 12th inning when he tried to score from second base, but video replay overturned the call and gave the Salukis a thrilling 5-4 win. SIU will play Indiana State at 9 a.m. today in another elimination game.
SIU stranded an army at Horner Ballpark, 17 baserunners, before Logan Blackfan's single into right with one out finally ended it. Vasic drew a leadoff walk from right-hander Jace Burke, Evansville's sixth pitcher of the day, and went to second when Connor Kopach was hit by a pitch.
The Aces (12-39) then brought in lefty Nathan Croner to face Blackfan. Blackfan, SIU's senior first baseman who led the team with 59 RBIs during the regular season, lined his third pitch into right. Right fielder Dalton Hortsmeier fired home, but backup catcher Travis Tokarek missed the tag after he caught the throw on the right side of the plate.
Vasic's head-first slide allowed his left hand to touch the plate before Tokarek touched him on his back, and SIU won the first extra-inning game of the tournament.
Two of the umpires on the field went to the sideline after the play and reviewed the play on video. They then came back and called Vasic safe.
"There's very few things you can review," SIU coach Ken Henderson said. "They immediately came in and said 'Let's go look at it.' Niko said he was safe."
The Salukis (28-29) and Aces were close to tying the longest game ever at the MVC tournament (14 innings), but things finally broke in the 12th. Trey McDaniel, SIU's fourth pitcher of the day, escaped the top half by getting Evan Aders to fly out to right with two on. The Salukis then won the game in the bottom half to stay alive.
McDaniel (3-4) got the win after throwing three shutout innings. Burke (0-9) took the loss.
Evansville kept the game going with two runs off SIU closer Ryan Netemeyer. The Salukis trailed 4-3 in the eighth before Connor Kopach singled through the left side to score Vasic.
"We kept grinding. Even when we're not playing great, we don't quit," Henderson said. "We're gonna keep grinding. Netemeyer gives up the two runs, and we lose the lead in the eighth, and we've had teams that would have shut it down. When Kopach got that two-out hit, that was big."
Indiana State, which beat SIU in walk-off fashion Thursday 9-7, takes on top-seeded Missouri State in the third game of the day. If the Salukis win in the first game of the day Friday, they will play either the Bears or Sycamores later in the day, at approximately 4 p.m. in another elimination game.