by Ken Babcock

CARBONDALE, Ill. - The SIU baseball team scored runs in five of its last six innings and cruised past Western Illinois 9-1 on Tuesday afternoon at Itchy Jones Stadium. The Salukis improved to 8-0 on the season and have won 13-straight games dating back to last season.

Braden Babcock got the start for SIU and was outstanding, allowing just one run in five innings and picking up his first NCAA D1 win in just his second start. Bubba Hall, Matthew Steidl, Kyle Back, Mitchell Jackson and Dylan Givens followed and didn't allow a run over the final four innings of the game. For
"Everybody performed pretty well, especially after the long weekend we had," SIU head coach Lance Rhodes said. "We had a long road trip. It felt like at times the bodies were pretty tired today. To be able to score nine runs and hold the opponent to one run on a day where we didn't feel 100% was good."

The Salukis (8-0) picked up a nice win over Western Illinois (1-3), which had opened its season by beating the nation's No. 4-ranked team, Louisville, in its home ballpark.

SIU's eight wins this year are second-most in the nation, and SIU's 13-game winning streak, dating back to last season, is the second-longest active winning streak in the nation. Southern's 13-game winning streak is the longest for SIU since the 1990 Salukis won 16-straight games.

"That's maturity and good leadership," Rhodes said. "I think a lot of it is due to the fact that we missed the year last year. Every chance we get to play a game, they're excited to play. It helps when we have great leaders on the field who show up every day and hold everyone accountable to being ready to play."

SIU's offense didn't have one explosive inning, but it gradually expanded the lead against the Leathernecks. Ian Walters opened the scoring with a two-out, two-run homer in the third. After WIU got a run back in the top of the fourth Philip Archer pushed SIU's lead back to two runs with a two-out RBI single in the bottom half. Archer added an RBI single in the sixth, which was followed by a sac fly from Tony Rask. Tristan Peters drove home a run in the seventh, and SIU really blew the game open with a three-run eighth, highlighted by J.T. Weber's two-run inside-the-park homer.

"I go back to the word relentless. Every inning, there was pressure," Rhodes said. "Some inning we didn't score a run, but we always had a chance. We were a hit away from breaking the game open multiple times. It's good to have traffic on the bases consistently."

"I almost wish there were more innings to play because there were guys that we would have liked to have thrown more," Rhodes said. "When you run out of innings, you're trying to find outs to get guys in there. We had guys that really needed to get into a game for the first time. They've been working hard in practice, and they went out and threw the ball well. They'll continue to get innings. It's always a good problem when you're trying to find people innings because people are throwing the ball well."

UP NEXT: SIU hosts U of Tennessee - Martin for a three-game series this weekend. Friday's first pitch is set for 3 p.m.

NOTES: SIU is 8-0 for just the second time in program history (SIU started 11-0 in 1967) ... SIU has won 13-straight games dating back to the final five games of the 2020 season, the program's longest winning streak since 1990 (16 games) ... Ian Walters extended his reached base streak to 29 games, which dates back to late in the 2019 season, and Philip Archer extended his reached base streak to 19 games, which dates back to last year ... SIU's eight wins are the second-most in the nation (Stetson is 9-0) ... SIU's 13-game winning streak is the nation's second-longest active winning streak (Navy has won 18-straight games) ... Nick Neville's 11-game hitting streak, dating back to last year, was snapped ... Walters, Archer and Peters all recorded their fifth multi-hit games of the eight-game season ... SIU is one of just 13 teams in the nation that remains undefeated.