(SIU Athletics) – Southern Illinois baseball saw its season come to an end Thursday morning at Bob Warn Field, falling to Belmont 6-5 in an elimination game at the MVC Championship.
The Salukis (30-27) struggled to keep the Bruins off the base paths throughout, issuing a season-high 12 walks in the game. In two games of the tournament, Southern issued 19 free passes.
Belmont (27-32) pushed the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth thanks in part to Blake Barton who was able to work a full count and ultimately draw a leadoff walk. The Bruins moved Barton into scoring position with a bunt before Ethan Harden singled him in with a ball through the right side of the infield.
Cathedral City, California native Ryan Rodriguez had a day at the plate for the Salukis, driving in the first four runs of the game for Southern. The third baseman put SIU in front in the bottom of the first with an RBI double to right. Tied at one in the fifth inning, Rodriguez belted a three-run home run out to center – his sixth home run of the season – to put the Salukis back in front 4-1.
The Bruins got a run back in the top of the seventh before Matt Schark pushed the SIU lead back to three with his 11th home run of the season in the bottom half of the inning.
Belmont would plate three runs in the eighth on just two hits. Barton led off the frame with a double before Easton Dermody was able to get two outs on a ground ball and an infield popup. The Bruins then went to work with two outs, working two walks to load the bases to force an SIU pitching change.
Mason Landers doubled off of Sam Replogle to plate the first two runs of the inning before Sam Slaughter worked a bases loaded walk to tie the game at five. Matt Schark had two hits including a solo home run.
Jake Combs went four innings in the start, allowing one run on three hits. The right-hander walked six and struck out three. He got out of two bases-loaded jams in the first and third innings unscathed.
On the other side, Jalen Borders allowed four runs on seven hits over six innings. Ethan Harden closed the door on the Salukis pitching the final two innings and allowing just one baserunner on a walk.
Ryan Rodriguez and Nathan Bandy led the Dawgs at the plate. Rodriguez went 3-for-4 with four RBIs while Bandy was 2-for-4 with a run scored.