Despite a 44-win season and a handful of other noteworthy accomplishments, SIU’s Saluki baseball team didn’t get a bid to the 2022 NCAA Championship field announced Sunday morning, May 29.
Despite going 4-2 against MVC champion Missouri State, winning 3 of 4 against a highly regarded Dallas Baptist team and sweeping the season’s series with OVC champion and tournament qualifier SEMO, the Salukis’ season ended Sunday evening with a disheartening 13-3 loss to Missouri State.
After dropping the league championship opener against Missouri State, the Salukis faced elimination five straight times and came up big in four of them.
After the opening loss to the Bears, the Massac County connection showed up big time against Indiana State as Noah Farmer toed the rubber for 5 2/3 innings, surrendering two runs and left with a comfortable 7-2 lead. The win ran Farmer’s record to a sparkling 7-1.
On the offensive front, J.T. Weber stepped up, as he’s done so many times this year, with a three-hit performance. Weber needed a triple to hit for the cycle as he doubled in a run in the third inning, smacked a solo homer in the sixth inning and singled in another run in the eighth frame.
SIU then whipped Dallas Baptist 7-5, beat Evansville 8-6 and staved off elimination in the first of two Sunday games against Missouri State 9-6.
The Sunday morning win over the Bears set the stage for a “do or die” game Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately for the Salukis, the Bears rolled to a 13-3 win to wrap up the automatic bid to the big dance.
It was then in the hands of the NCAA committee whether SIU was in or out. I’ll not speculate about the methodology used to pick the at-large field, but I’m sure that the grit and determination of Lance Rhodes’ team was every bit the equal of anyone in the field.
It’s a shame the Salukis didn’t make it, but it was a great year for them and for their followers.