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Baseball Salukis sweep Evansville.

Byline: Submitted by JOHN lock, Saluki media relations

CARBONDALE The Southern Illinois baseball program completed a three-game sweep of Evansville with a 4-1 win on Sunday afternoon at Itchy Jones Stadium. The Salukis have won five straight games.

SIU freshman Matthew Steidl made his first career Missouri Valley Conference start and responded with five innings of two-hit baseball, striking out six. Evansville's only run came on an infield single and, later in the inning, a two-out soft looping liner just barely over the shortstop. Sam Grace, Justin Yeager and Trey McDaniel combined to shut out Evansville (21-22, 8-7 MVC) for four innings, allowing just two hits.

"It starts on the bump, and all four guys did a great job," SIU head coach Ken Henderson said. "We had some timely hits and picked guys up when we needed to, and our defense was really good. It was a complete game. We did all phases pretty well."

The Salukis (22-22, 4-11 MVC) answered immediately. Aiden McMahan hit a sac fly to score Alex Lyon. SIU broke the tie with single runs in the fifth, sixth and eighth innings. In the fifth, J.T. Weber singled and moved to second on Grey Epps's sacrifice bunt. Addison Fugitt drove home the go-ahead run with an RBI single.

McMahan came through with an RBI groundout in the sixth, and Lyon crushed a solo homer in the eighth for insurance.

McMahan's two RBI day gave him 12 RBIs in SIU's perfect 5-0 week. Today, both his RBIs were vital in a well-pitched game, and both came on 0-2 counts with a runner on third and less than two outs.

"You expect Bean to do that," Henderson said. "He's going to grind. He's a guy you want up in those situations because you know he's going to battle and give you a chance to get those runs in."

SIU closer Trey McDaniel locked down the save with a perfect ninth inning. McDaniel became the first Saluki since Bryant George in 2007 to save every game of a series. McDaniel pitched in every game of SIU's 5-0 week, allowing just one hit and striking out seven over five innings across his five appearances. He needed just 58 pitches for his five nearly flawless innings of work. Today, he earned his MVC-leading 12th save of the season.

"He was able to that because he was efficient," Henderson said. "He didn't need many pitches in any of those saves, and the rest of the bullpen did a great job to get through the eighth inning. We didn't have to use (McDaniel) for multiple innings in any of those games. We gave him a clean ninth, and he was outstanding. He was really sharp all weekend."

Alex Lyon and Philip Archer both went 7-for-18 (.389) in Southern's 5-0 week.

"Alex Lyon and Philip Archer have really been swinging it well, and hitting is contagious," Henderson said. "Their success will get other guys going. We only had six hits, but our ABs were better than that. We had timely hits, moved some runners, and executed well."

SIU snapped a 10-game losing streak with this active five-game winning streak. The wins came against quality competition, starting with Tuesday's win over Illinois (top-20 RPI) and continuing through a weekend sweep of Evansville, which was an NCAA Tournament at-large bubble team entering the weekend.

"When we were in a funk, we just wanted to take it one game at a time, trying to play better baseball each day," Henderson said. "We have to continue to do the same thing now that we're playing better. Build off it and use the confidence, but just take it one game at a time. We're a much different club than we were a week ago. I'm so proud of our guys for staying the course and continuing to believe."

The Salukis have a week off for finals week before a weekend series at Valparaiso next weekend, Southern's final three road games of the regular season.

Saluki notes: SIU swept Evansville for the third-straight year and has won 10-straight games over the Aces ... SIU is 21-2 when leading or tied after six innings ... SIU is 17-7 at Itchy Jones Stadium this year and 26 games over .500 at home since 2016 (68-42-1) ... SIU is 16-5 when it doesn't allow a home run ... SIU has won 14-straight games when allowing four runs or fewer ... SIU's pitching has limited opponents to a .195 batting average during the five-game winning streak. Blake Begner, Trey McDaniel, Sam Grace, and Dylan Givens have a combined 0.00 ERA in 17.1 innings during the winning streak.
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Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Geographic Code:1U3IN
Date:May 7, 2019
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