CARBONDALE — The SIU baseball team pounded out five runs off 11 hits and got a solid effort from its bullpen against Illinois on Tuesday night, but came up short in its bid for a historic regular-season sweep.
The Fighting Illini broke a 3-all tie with three straight singles and a sacrifice fly in the fifth, and scored the winning run off a passed ball to beat the Salukis 6-5 at Jones Stadium. Michael Massey came home from third base when pitcher Jacob Williams and catcher Nick Hutchins got their signals crossed on the first pitch to Trent Hammond in the seventh. Williams' pitch down the middle got past Hutchins and rolled all the way to the backstop.
Massey scored without a throw to put Illinois (19-23) up 6-3. Williams got Hammond to ground out to third base to end the threat, but Illinois' bullpen made the lead stand up.
The Salukis (23-23) scored two runs in the eighth and got the tying run on base in the ninth, but missed their chance for the first three-game sweep of the Fighting Illini since 1971.
"We left a few runs out there, but give them credit. We just didn't win," SIU coach Ken Henderson said. "We played hard. I thought we played well, had some opportunities, took advantage, we kept battling. We found a way to score two in the eighth."
Dyllin Mucha became the tying run when he poked Joey Gerber's two-strike pitch into left field with two outs in the ninth. A wild pitch gave Mucha second base, but Connor Kopach grounded out to shortstop to end the game.
Gerber earned his seventh save of the year. Zak Devermann (1-0), Illinois' third reliever of the evening, got the win after throwing a perfect sixth inning.
Allen Montgomery (0-2) took the loss after Illinois regained the lead with two runs in the fifth. SIU tied the game at 3-all in the bottom half of the fourth.
Freshman Jamison Steege allowed three runs and six hits in four innings in his second mid-week start of the season. Steege struck out two and walked two.
The Salukis had 10 hits and left five runners on base. Greg Lambert became one of them after beating out an infield single to start the sixth. Devermann struck out Logan Blackfan and Jake Hand and got Hutchins to fly out to right field to end the threat.
"He beat out the infield single, and we went down pretty quietly after that," Henderson said. "I think you have to tip your hat to them. They made pitches. I'm not overly disappointed in our hitters. I thought we competed and gave ourselves a chance, and sometimes they fall and sometimes they don't. We just couldn't find a way to scratch another run across."
SIU next hosts No. 16 Missouri State this weekend. The Bears lead the Missouri Valley Conference with an 11-0 record and have won 15 straight league games dating back to last season. First pitch Friday night between the Salukis and Bears is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.