As junior Matt McGowan crossed the plate with the sun setting in the bottom of the 10th, the ’Breds breathed a collective sigh of relief.
The streak was over.
Murray State (10-12, 4-5 OVC) snapped its five-game losing streak with a 7-6 extra innings win against the visiting Salukis of Southern Illinois Wednesday.
“It felt great (scoring the winning run),” McGowan said. “I know we’ve been on a losing streak lately but it felt great just to come across with a win. It’s a big win.”
The ’Breds had to fight back to stay in contention all day as they fell behind 2-0 after the opening half inning.
Senior Ty Stetson scored Murray State’s first run after freshman Tyler Lawrence was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
Junior Michael Hargrove drew a 3-2 bases loaded walk, scoring McGowan from third to tie the game at 2-2.
The Salukis added another run in the second, but the ’Breds came right back.
Stetson tallied his second RBI, ripping a double down the right field line to plate sophomore Taylor Mathews after he stole second.
Both teams held each other in check over the next four innings before swapping leads in the later innings.
Southern Illinois was the first team able to gain a small advantage.
Freshman Tanner Edge sat the first two SIU batters down before walking the next two.
Fellow classmate BT Wichman took over in relief, but he gave up an RBI single, charged to Edge, and a walk.
Junior Cameron Wallace got the final out of the seventh but surrendered a bases loaded walk, also charged to Edge.
The ’Breds did not go away, though.
Freshman Clay Kelly took a pitch to the upper back with the bases loaded, bringing in Mathews to make the deficit 5-4.
But that would not be all for Murray State.
Stetson scored on an Anthony Bayus double to tie the game before scoring the go ahead run after Lawrence reached on a fielding error.
Freshman John Lollar preserved the ’Breds’ lead over the next few innings before giving up the tying run in the ninth; he sat the next two batters down to end the inning.
With game time nearing four hours, the light began to be an issue, and Head Coach Rob McDonald did not want the team to be left holding their bats if the game were to be delayed.
“(The umpires) had already kind of indicated that it was going to be the end of it, as it was getting dark,” McDonald said. “You’re always concerned in that situation, when you’re batting in the bottom of the inning, that they go out and score and then here we are hitting in the dark or something like that.”
Luckily for McDonald, the ’Breds were just as ready to leave with a win as he was. McGowan singled to start the inning, Bayus walked and Lawrence’s attempted sac bunt was thrown away by SIU’s Kyle Pruemer, allowing McGown to score the game winner.
“Lawrence put down a beautiful bunt and we ended up coming out ahead,” McDonald said. “So, we will definitely take it. It’s big to get the win. I’m proud of the guys for the way they battled and nobody has complained or made excuses; they’ve just kept battling.
“So that kind of made it a little extra sweet to get that win. Just feeling like the guys deserved one.”
The two clubs combined to use 16 pitchers in the contest. The ’Breds’ seven runs came off seven hits as they took advantage of four SIU errors.
Senior pitcher Tyler Saltsman earned his first victory of the year.
Murray State travels to Austin Peay State for a three-game series starting Saturday. The first pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m.
Story by Nick Dolan, Assistant Sports Editor