A second-inning grand slam from Southern Illinois’ Connor Kopach powered the hosts to a 5-0 win over the Illinois State baseball team at Carbondale on Saturday.

SIU (25-26, 8-9 MVC) grabbed a commanding lead with one swing of Kopach. Starting with two outs, Logan Blackfan walked, Ryan Sabo singled and Dyllin Mucha was hit by a pitch to set the table for Kopach’s grand slam over the right-field wall.

The Salukis added a run in the fourth when Mucha scored on a Redbird fielding error.

The best scoring opportunity for ISU (12-36, 1-16) came in the eighth when Joe Aeilts and Ryan Hutchinson walked to lead off. John Rave then reached on an error to load the bases. But a lineout, flyout and strikeout ended the inning.

Derek Parola collected two of ISU's five hits.

Redbird starter Matt Walker allowed five runs (four earned) on five hits and four walks over four innings. Mitch Weis followed, allowing two hits and no runs over three innings. He struck out three and walked none. Michael Sebby pitched a scoreless eighth.

The Redbirds return to Itchy Jones Stadium for the series finale at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Thomas wins: Brandy Thomas of ISU won the shot put in the Missouri Valley Conference Championships at Wichita, Kan., with a throw of 51 feet, 5.5 inches.

After five events, the ISU women are tied for sixth with 10 points. Wichita State leads with 78. After seven men's events, ISU is fourth (34) while WSU leads with 84.

Redbird runners-up were Amanda McClain in the long jump (19-9) and Morgan Keller in the shot put (50-8½).

For the ISU men, James Brandenburg finished second in the decathlon with 6,604 points.

Finck, Heineman honored: With a pair of standout performances, pitcher Sarah Finck and outfielder Annie Heineman were named to the Missouri Valley Conference’s All-Tournament softball team, as voted on by the league’s coaches.

Finck led the Redbirds against Southern Illinois, tossing her 23rd complete game of the season in eight innings. She struck out four didn't allow an earned run. As a fielder, she had a game-high seven assists.

Heineman sparked ISU against the Salukis on Friday, going 2-for-3 at the plate. This is the second all-tournament team honor for the senior.

Muller aiding USA Basketball: ISU's Dan Muller has been chosen as one of four college head coaches to serve as court coaches for the USA Basketball Men’s U19 World Cup Team training camp.

Muller will join King Rice of Monmouth, Sean Hanrahan of Warner and Jeremy Shulman of Eastern Florida State in assisting John Calipari's coaching staff during next month's training camp in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Rice was an ISU assistant from 1993-98.

ILLINOIS WESLEYAN

Softball team pulls upset: Seventh-inning magic worked again as IWU scored in its final at-bat to claim a 4-3 win over No. 21 Alma College in the NCAA Division III regional softball championships in Alma, Mich.

The Titans (33-12), who defeated Otterbein in the seventh inning on Friday, will play at 11 a.m. (Central) on Sunday in the championship game against Alma (29-9). 

The Titans's seventh saw Amanda Lack get hit by a pitch to lead off the inning before Jillian Runyon singled. Sydney Alery sacrificed to advance the runners and Sam Berghoff walked to load the bases with one out.

Lack was thrown out on a ground ball to short but, with two outs, Katie Caulfield hit a ball that Alma pitcher Morgan Stratton didn't handle cleanly and the throw home was late to get Runyon scoring the game-winner. 

IWU put three runs on the board in the first inning on consecutive singles by Runyon, Alery and Berghoff. Alery and Caulfield delivered runs batted in and the Titans took advantage of two passed balls to advance runners in the inning.

Brea Walker (15-4) picked up the win in relief, going three hitless, scoreless innings. Starter Mackenzie Marquis pitched four innings and allowed three runs on five hits with four walks.

Lacrosse falls in NCAA tourney: The IWU men's lacrosse team dropped a 25-11 decision to No. 5 Denison to bow out in the round of 16 in the NCAA Division III tournament in Granville, Ohio. Michael Julius led the Titans with four goals. IWU's season ends at 16-4.

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Sports Writer

Sports Writer for The Pantagraph.

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