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Salukis fall to Illinois State Thursday; face elimination game next

EVANSVILLE, Ind. – No. 6 Southern Illinois baseball had to wait until 9:50 p.m. Thursday night to take the field due to weather delays throughout day three of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, dropping its first game in the tournament to No. 4 Illinois State, 14-4, at German American Bank Field.

MVC Note: Day Four of the Missouri Valley Conference Baseball Tournament begins at 11 a.m. CT with No. 3 seed Evansville facing No. 5 seed UIC in Game 10. Top-seeded Indiana State will play the loser of that game (Game 11) at 2:30 p.m. CT. If Indiana State wins Game 11, the Sycamores will face Southern Illinois at 6 p.m. CT in Game 12. If the loser of Game 10 (UIC or Evansville) wins Game 11, Game 12 could not be played until Saturday at 11 a.m. CT (a team will not play three games in one day).

Southern Illinois (33-26) would have to play from behind nearly all game as Illinois State was able to plate two runs in the second, running Ben Riffe from the game after an inning and a third. Shane Wilhelm would enter with the bases loaded and get out of the second allowing just one run as SIU turned a double play to strand two Redbirds.

Illinois State (30-26) strung together three hits, two walks, and a hit-by-pitch to put five runs on the scoreboard in the third, forcing the Salukis to go to the bullpen once more. After an out to open the frame, ILS had three straight batters reach base. Tyler Herron singled in two runs before J.T. Sokolove doubled two more runs in. The Redbirds added their fifth run on a throwing error.

Southern Illinois struggled at the plate, putting two runners on base through the first five innings of play with Jake Allgeyer and Bennett Eltoft each drawing walks.

It was Nathan Bandy who broke up the no-hitter in the sixth inning with a leadoff double down the line in left field. That would get the Salukis going offensively as Bandy would come home the next at bat when Mathieu Vallee singled to put the Dawgs on the scoreboard.

It was Allgeyer who pulled the Salukis within three runs two batters later as he sent a ball to center that went under a diving Redbird and allowed Allgeyer to come around and score the first inside-the-park home run for SIU since J.T. Weber did it on March 2, 2021 against Eastern Illinois.

With two outs on the board in the sixth, Illinois State would get a three-run home run off the bat of Shai Robinson to push the lead to 10-4. The Redbirds added four more runs in the eighth to secure the run-rule win.

Alec Nigut was tasked to shoulder the weight of the bullpen during the game, pitching the final 5.1 innings in an effort to save Saluki arms moving forward in the tournament. Nigut struck out eight but was hit with eight earned runs on seven hits and four walks. Riffe was tagged with the loss and fell to 3-4 on the year.

Carter Monke (6-1) was credited with the win after tossing six innings and taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning before Southern strung together five hits and scored four runs. He struck out nine and allowed just two walks.

Southern was outhit by the Redbirds 11-6 with Bandy leading the way with a 2-for-3 day in the box. Allgeyer drove in three of SIU’s four runs.

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