Cougars Win Final Tune-up before OVC Season
EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – SIUE baseball built a 6-0 lead Wednesday and held on for a 6-4 victory over visiting Illinois State at Simmons Baseball Complex.
"That was a good win against a good team," SIUE Head Coach Gary Collins said. "It was key for us to get ahead today. If you can play ahead, it is a little easier."
SIUE improved to 10-10 with the victory. The game was the final non-conference game for SIUE before beginning the OVC season Friday. Illinois State is now 13-6.
SIUE took a 3-0 lead in the second inning with three runs on three hits against ISU starter Johnny Lieske. Zach Hawkins made it 1-0 with an RBI-groundout to score Devin Caldwell. Caldwell doubled to start the inning and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Travis Becherer drove home two with a two-out, two-run single to make it 3-0.
The Cougars made it 5-0 with two more runs in the third inning. Joel Greatting doubled to start the inning. Caldwell followed with a walk and Zach Hawkins singled to load the bases. Nick Lombardo singled to drive in a run before Brett Keeler hit a sacrifice fly to right to add another.
Caldwell doubled home a run in the fourth to make it 6-0 Cougars. He finished 2 for 3 with the RBI and two runs. Lombardo was 2 for 4. Becherer was 1 for 4 with two RBIs.
Thad Hawkins started and threw 3 2/3 innings for SIUE. Hawkins faced the minimum, 11 hitters, and allowed just one hit. He struck out four.
"Thad's got that Sunday start now," Collins said. "He looked good for those first three innings."
Josh Hoguet (1-3) followed Thad Hawkins in the game. The right-hander allowed one hit over 2 1/3 shutout innings. He struck out six to earn his first win of the season.
The Redbirds scored all four of their runs in the seventh inning against SIUE relievers Tony Schaeffer and Brian Lorenz.
Mike Hollenbeck and Eric Aguilera each picked up one out singles before Brett Kay hit a three-run home run to chase Schaeffer and make it 6-3 SIUE. Bryan Huff reached on a two-out, infield-single. Ty Weisemeyer followed with a hit before Matt Mirabal waked to load the bases. Huff scored on a wild pitch to make it 6-4. Kay finished 1 for 4 with the homer and three RBIs. Hollenbeck was 2 for 4.
Dustin Quattrocchi closed the game for the Cougars with 1 1/3 perfect innings. He struck out one to earn his fifth save of the season.
SIUE begins its first-ever Ohio Valley Conference season with a three-game weekend series against Eastern Illinois. Collins likened the non-conference portion of the schedule to spring training.
"Everybody thinks they are good right now because no one has played a conference game," he said. "(Eastern Illinois) will be playing hard and it's going to be a tough series."
First pitch Friday is set for 6 p.m.