NORMAL — The bottom of the order put Dallas Baptist on top Thursday at the Missouri Valley Conference Baseball Tournament, and the Patriots' pitching kept them there.
The Patriots pulled off the rare trifecta of their Nos. 7, 8 and 9 hitters smacking home runs and eliminated Evansville, 9-2, at Duffy Bass Field.
No. 8 hitter Andres Sosa got top-seeded DBU (40-16) started with a two-run homer in the second inning. Augie Isaacson launched a solo shot on the next hitter.
Seventh-place batter Herbert Iser added a solo homer in the fourth, and the Patriots put the game away with five seventh-inning runs.
"That's something we pride ourselves on, telling our guys we could flip our lineup and be just as good," DBU coach Dan Heefner said. "We want those guys at the bottom to have the mentality they're run producers. They can obviously change the game, and they need to change the game."
Patriots starter MD Johnson could not finish the fifth inning to qualify for the win. The MVC all-star hurler needed 107 pitches to navigate 4⅓ innings.
"He battled, but he was definitely not himself today," said Heefner. "The hardest thing in a tournament like this is you need guys to go deep. Conserving pitching is a big deal."
Evansville bowed out at 24-29. Troy Beilsmith had three of the Aces' eight hits and Eric Roberts homered.
Southern hangs on: Southern Illinois survived a four-run Missouri State ninth-inning rally to edge the Bears, 10-9, in an elimination game.
Southern closer Trey McDaniel served up a two-run home run to Dakota Kotowski that cut the Saluki lead to one in the ninth but regrouped to record the final three outs for his league-leading 14th save.
"It was our best offensive game of the year, bar none, with the approaches we had and the swings we put on it," said Southern coach Ken Henderson, whose team produced a season-high 17 hits.
"They are an explosive team. We knew we had to score. We were keeping that pressure on, and it turned out we needed every one of them."
The Salukis (26-28) scored four runs in the first inning — three coming on an Ian Walters home run — and led 5-1 after five. Missouri State crept closer in the sixth with solo home runs on consecutive pitches by Joey Polak and Drew Millas.
Southern added one in the seventh. The Bears (20-36) pulled within 6-5 in bottom of the seventh, scoring two on a bases-loaded throwing error. The tying run was thrown out at the plate.
The Salukis overcame four errors. Southern starter Blake Begner allowed four runs — two earned — in 6⅔ innings.