Benches clear in first Astros-Dodgers game since sign-stealing scandal

HOUSTON — The Houston Astros are trying to put their sign-stealing scandal behind them.

Here’s a link to the story at the Chicago Tribune.

Column: For David Ross and Rick Renteria, Week 1 of a bizarre baseball season has been a whirlwind

It was a memorable Monday for David Ross and Rick Renteria as Chicago’s crosstown baseball managers attempt to navigate through this pandemic-altered season.
Here’s a link to the column at the Chicago Tribune.

MLB season startup: Here are the pros and cons of the three most likely scenarios

Major League Baseball must decide whether bringing its sport back and televising it to home-bound fans is a worthwhile risk.

Here’s a link to the story at the Southern Illinoisan.

Sound of silence: Baseball thinking ahead to silent stadiums

Tom Murphy has become somewhat of an online sensation during baseball’s shutdown for the array of workouts the Seattle Mariners’ catcher posts on Instagram from his home in upstate New York.

Here’s a link to the story at the Southern Illinoisan.

Four Salukis named to MVC Scholar-Athlete Teams

ST. LOUIS – Four SIU baseball players were named to the Missouri Valley Conference’s Scholar-Athlete teams, the league announced Thursday. Ian Walters was named to the First Team. Brad Harrison, Mason Hiser, and Austin Ulick were named to the Honorable Mention team.

Walters (Paducah, Ky.) was off to an incredible start in 2020, leading the MVC in hits, doubles, stolen bases, assists, and on-base percentage. He also ranked highly in the league in batting average (2nd), total bases (2nd), walks (2nd), runs scored (3rd) and slugging percentage (7th). Walters reached base in all 18 games and recorded a hit in 17 of them, including 15-straight games to close the season. Walters reached base at least twice in 16 of 18 games. Walters holds a 3.881 GPA in sport administration.

Brad Harrison (O’Fallon, Ill.) was named to the MVC Scholar-Athlete team for a third-straight year. He posted a 3.00 ERA over 18 innings. Most notably, he pitched five shutout innings in SIU’s win over USC. He also pitched five shutout innings in a win over Northern Illinois. Harrison’s ERA ranked eighth-best in the league. In addition to being a three-time MVC Scholar-Athlete team selection (HM in 2018, First Team in 2019), Harrison was a three-time MVC Scholar-Athlete of the Week in 2018 and earned a spot on the All-MVC Honorable Mention team in 2018. Harrison holds a 3.64 GPA in civil engineering.

Mason Hiser (Augusta, Kan.) was SIU’s opening day starter in 2020 and was outstanding all season. He went 2-0 with a 2.35 ERA over 23 innings. His ERA ranked fourth in the league, and he also ranked fourth in the league in inning pitched. Hiser had two quality starts and did not allow more than three earned runs in any start this season. He started the year off with six shutout innings on opening day. Hiser holds a 3.387 GPA in sport administration.

Austin Ulick (Washington, Ill.) started 14 of 18 games at catcher for the Salukis and hit .362, which ranked fourth in the league. Behind the plate, he threw out six would-be base stealers, which led the MVC, and has now thrown out 22 runners over his three seasons at SIU. Ulick posted a .444 on-base percentage, which ranked eighth in the league, and drove home the winning run in a walk-off win over Northern Illinois. Ulick holds a 3.823 GPA in sport administration.

SIU placed three or more player’s on the league’s Scholar-Athlete teams for the fourth time in the last five years. SIU has placed at least two players on the league’s Scholar-Athlete team in eight of the last nine seasons.

RLC seeking support for virtual AHA Heart Walk

INA, Ill. — The annual South Central Illinois Heart Walk is going virtual this year and Team RLC is looking for your support.

Due to ongoing health concerns due to COVID-19, the event organizers changed the annual American Heart Association event to a virtual walk. This means walkers can participate from anywhere they want. All you have to do is walk two miles at any location on April 25 while sharing a photo on social media before and after you walk with the hashtag #VirtualSouthCentralHW.

Join the Rend Lake College team in working to cure heart disease and stroke. Supporters are invited to put on their RLC gear and share photos and videos on social media. To contribute to RLC team members, visit https://www2.heart.org/site/TR/?team_id=566410&pg=team&fr_id=4911. So far, Beth Mandrell, Emily DeForest, Jaron Hubbard and Jo Dick are on the roster.

By participating, you are helping raise funds for lifesaving science and research along with Heart Walk events across the nation. The South Central Illinois Heart Walk is about halfway to its fundraising goal of $70,000. Those looking to participate in the walk can start at any time and any place on April 25. For more information contact (217) 331-6779 or visit https://www2.heart.org/site/TR?fr_id=4911&pg=entry.

Warriors basketball coach Holder steps down

INA, Ill. — The men’s basketball coach for Rend Lake College is moving on. Tommy Holder, who has been the head coach for the Warriors since 2017, announced he would not be returning to the position for the 2020-2021 season.

“I’d like to thank Rend Lake for giving me my first college coaching opportunity,” Holder said on social media. “I really enjoyed being a mentor there to so many great young men.”

Holder leaves behind a team that finished the regular season with a 14-18 record. After knocking out Illinois Central College in the first round of the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II Central District Tournament, the Warriors fell to John Wood Community College in the tournament semifinal. The team has a lot of young talent though, with freshmen holding nine of 10 roster spots by the end of the season.

Holder got his start at RLC as a player. He was offered a basketball scholarship after playing in the Lion’s Club All-Star Game at RLC in 2005. After redshirting a year due to injury, Holder was a productive player for the Warriors for two seasons. He would go on to play a season at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.

Following his playing career, Holder was hired as an assistant coach in 2011 under coach Randy House. Holder served as an assistant until House’s departure in 2017 and helped the Warriors win the 2013 NJCAA DII National Championship.

Holder finishes with a 32-61 (34.4%) regular-season record and 1-3 postseason record during his three full seasons as head coach.

Football Salukis announce 2020 schedule

CARBONDALE — The SIU football team announced its largely regional 2020 schedule on Monday.

Here’s a link to the story at the Southern Illinoisan.

Indiana State spoils Senior Night with a 79-68 win over Salukis

CARBONDALE, Ill. – The Indiana State men’s basketball team shot a blistering 57.4% from the field to ruin SIU’s Senior Night, 79-68, on Wednesday night at Banterra Center. Indiana State shot 63% from the field in the first half, including 6-for-8 from the 3-point line, and limited SIU to 38.5% shooting in the second half to hold on.

Defense has been SIU’s calling card this season — the Salukis (16-14, 10-7 MVC) came into the game ranked in the top-10 nationally in scoring defense. But Indiana State (17-9, 10-7 MVC) picked it apart tonight. Indiana State shot the highest field goal percentage of any SIU opponent this season and scored the second-most points against SIU, behind only Murray State’s 79 points back in mid-November.

“We always say, ‘Tough 2’s are tough 2’s.’ That’s what we want them to shoot. They made a couple tough 2’s, and they made a couple tough 3’s. That’s not why they beat us,” SIU head coach Bryan Mullins said. “They beat us because they consistently played harder than us and executed better than us. We have to do a better job making them feel us. Defensively, we weren’t good enough to win tonight.”

The Trees hit a plethora of tough shots in the first half but were most deadly behind the 3-point line, where they went 6-of-8. In the second half, Indiana State essentially abandoned the 3-point line, going 0-for-2, but they ended up with 38 points in the paint for the game. Indiana State’s two all-conference caliber guards, Tyreke Key and Jordan Barnes, were especially impressive, combining for 41 points, 5 assists, and 6 rebounds; and the pair combined to shoot 16-for-25 (64%) from the field.

Despite the loss, SIU’s fan support was outstanding again, with a crowd of 5,297 turning out on Senior Night to show appreciation for seniors Barret Benson, Eric McGill and Ronnie Suggs Jr. The Salukis wrap up the 2019-20 season with a 12-3 home record, which included a 10-game home court winning streak that was the program’s longest in more than a decade. After the game, Benson went out of his way to thank the fans.

“I appreciate the fans and the community more than they can ever imagine for giving this senior group, and specifically me, an amazing senior year,” Benson said. “I also want to apologize because we didn’t go out the way we should have in this building. We put in too many hours to play the way we did tonight. But again, all year the fans have been amazing. We really appreciate that, and the program will continue to need that down the road.”

To start the game, SIU jumped out to a seven-point lead in the game’s first 10 minutes. But Lance Jones — who scored or assisted on 6 of SIU’s first 7 field goals — picked up his second foul and went to the bench. Indiana State turned it around and finished the half by hitting 9 of their last 10 shots. The Sycamores extended their lead to double digits early in the second half to force an SIU timeout. The Salukis came out of the timeout and went on an 11-2 run to cut the lead to one, 53-52, with 12 minutes to go. Brendon Gooch was a huge part of that run, with a career-high 3 steals and two assists during one 2 minutes, 20 second stretch.

But the Salukis just couldn’t get over the hump. From the 12-minute mark until the final 90 seconds, SIU never trailed by more than five points, and the Salukis cut the lead to one or tied the game five separate times — but the Sycamores went 5-for-5 on the ensuing possessions to keep SIU at arm’s reach.

“This is a big-time gut-check team win for us over a team that’s been the hardest team to score against in the league all year, the No. 1 defensive team in the league,” Indiana State head coach Greg Lansing said.

Benson led SIU with 17 points and 8 rebounds on his Senior Night. Eric McGill scored 14, and Lance Jones scored 16 on 6-of-8 shooting. For Indiana State, in addition to Barnes and Key, Jake LaRavia had 14 points, 5 rebound, and 4 blocked shots. Christian Williams had 11 points and 6 assists.

UP NEXT: SIU closes the regular season at Missouri State on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m.

NOTES: The teams combined to go 21-for-21 from the free throw line (SIU was 12-12; INS was 9-9) … SIU lost when recording 15+ assists for the first time this year (8-1) … SIU’s four-game home court winning streak in the SIU-INS series was snapped … SIU fell to 14-5 on Senior Day in the last 19 seasons.

Lady Warriors finish our regular season, post season play begins next week

With an 89-82 loss to Lake Land College tonight, the Rend Lake Lady Warriors finished the regular season 16-14 overall and 12-6 in the Great Rivers Athletic Conference.

Coach Dave Brown has his squad playing very well as RLC readies for its district tournament next Tuesday. The Lake will likely be a top-four seed. It’s a huge turnaround for a program that won four games last season.

Averaging 20 points and 7 rebounds per game, Rend Lake freshman Madison Buford (St. Louis) will be called upon to lead the Lady Warriors. Louisville product Dais’Ja Trotter (15 ppg / 10 rpg) and defensive specialists Niya Danfort (St. Louis) and Makayla Marshall (Baton Rouge) will play big roles as well. Other contributors will include Timberly Masching (Doniphan, Mo.), Haleigh Keeling (Vienna), Megan Beery (West Frankfort), Rachel Jennings (Fairfield), Angel Helm (Anna), and Sami Mccowen (Waltonville).

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