CARBONDALE — Greg Lambert played 50 games at first base during summer ball because of a late injury to another player, but the move paid big dividends for SIU's offense against Tennessee Tech last weekend.
Lambert, a junior utility player who played some first and third base his freshman year, capped a 9 for 13 series against the Golden Eagles with a 7-RBI performance in Game 3. A starter in left field for 37 of his first 38 games this year, his move to first base allowed Logan Blackfan and outfielders Addison Fugitt and Jake Hand to get into the lineup.
SIU's struggling offense pounded out 29 runs in its weekend sweep of the Golden Eagles, who came into the series ranked 26th in the country by Collegiate Baseball.
"(Dyllin) Mucha had been swinging it really well, Fugitt is playing well, (Ryan Smith) has to be in there, and it allows us to put all three of those guys in there, and Lambert's an outstanding outfielder, as well, so, we've got four outstanding outfielders," SIU coach Ken Henderson said. "We're trying to get them all in there, and Jake Hand is swinging it well, so, we're trying to get him in the mix."
Lambert went 4 for 4 with seven RBIs, one off SIU's school record, in the 13-8 Game 3 victory. Fugitt, a freshman that missed the first 34 games with a wrist injury, raised his average to .381 after going 5 for 11 at the plate with three RBIs. Smith went 2 for 3 in Game 3 with two runs scored and two driven in for the Salukis (22-20), who moved a game over .500 entering this weekend's series against Dallas Baptist (25-15, 6-3 Missouri Valley Conference).
SIU hosts the Patriots on Friday at 1 p.m. in a game that was moved up because of a forecast of heavy rain this weekend. The two teams hope to play a doubleheader and another game later in the weekend.
The National Weather Service called for a 50 percent chance of rain Friday afternoon, with a high of 75 degrees and a low of 65. The rain chances go up to 80 percent near 7 p.m. until early Saturday morning.
Lambert, a 6-foot, 195-pound righty, practiced taking the ball off the short-hop as part of his normal routine as a utility player. Adjusting to the angle the ball comes to first base, and how to cut off throws from the outfield, took a bit longer to get used to.
"I grew up playing third," Lambert said. "It's a little different throw from the outfield, and trailing the runners at this level. It took me a while getting used to it freshman year, but after you get used to it, it's just like third, just a little more to do."
SIU has won a season-high four straight games after rallying to beat the Redhawks on the road Tuesday night. The Salukis came up with five runs in the ninth to win 7-5. Dallas Baptist has won a season-high seven straight and trails MVC leader Missouri State by three games.