The Southern Illinois baseball team snapped Murray State’s five-game winning streak Tuesday, using two eighth-inning home runs to come from behind and win 5-4.
Paducah native and McCracken County High School alum Ian Walters joined teammate Nick Neville in hitting those eighth-inning homers to help the Salukis overcome a 4-2 deficit.
Murray pitcher Quinton Kujawa was solid for six innings, a new career long, striking out four and only allowing one earned run on four hits.
Riley Hawthorne, playing in his second game, picked up his first career hit as a Racer with a leadoff single to right-center in the fifth.
Murray State (21-16, 11-7 Ohio Valley) had a lot of traffic on the base paths in the early part of the game, even loading the bases with nobody out. But it was Southern Illinois (27-12, 6-10 Missouri Valley) who cracked the scoreboard first with a run in the bottom half of the fourth.
The Racers immediately answered with three runs of their own in the next half inning. With two runners on, three straight Racers — Jordan Cozart, Brennan McCullough and Bryson Bloomer — all delivered RBIs.
Southern Illinois closed the gap to one, scoring an unearned run in the bottom of the fifth.
In the eighth, Jordan Holly hustled down to the first-base line to beat out an infield single to plate the Racers’ fourth run of the game.
After one scoreless relief inning, Jordyn Naranjo gave up the solo home run to Walters, bringing the score to a 4-3, and he was replaced by Jake Jones. A diving Brennan McCullough couldn’t come up with a ball in right that put an SIU runner on third with one out. The next batter, Neville, then launched an 0-2, two-run home run to give the Salukis a 5-4 advantage.
Murray State made a bid to tie the game in the ninth. SIU’s pitching staff, which had been throwing carefully to the red-hot Bryson Bloomer all game, walked him on four pitches with two outs. Jake Slunder came on to pinch run for Bloomer and immediately stole second, but a ground out ended the game.
The Racers will visit OVC leader Morehead State for a three-game conference series on Friday and Saturday and then will play the Eagles in a non-conference game on Sunday. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. in the doubleheader on Friday.