EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – Travis Felax and Brooks McDowell combined to toss the first shutout of the year Friday as SIUE blanked Eastern Illinois in the Ohio Valley Conference baseball opener for both schools.
SIUE defeated EIU 6-0 in the first of a three-game series.
Felax (2-1) worked into the ninth, allowing only nine hits. He did not walk a batter, for the second consecutive start, and struck out four.
"He was good today," SIUE Interim Head Coach Tony Stoecklin said. "He had all three of his pitches working. He did a good job of staying ahead in the count and attacking hitters."
Felax allowed hits to the first two batters he faced in the ninth before giving way to McDowell. McDowell face retired the side in order after entering. He struck out one.
"Brooks did a nice job putting out the fire and bringing the win home," Stoecklin added.
SIUE, 3-7 overall and 1-0 in the OVC, scattered seven among seven different hitters. Five different players had RBIs for the Cougars. Matt Highland, Joel Greatting, Ryan Mansfield, Matt Seevers, and Zach Little each drove in a run in the win. Stoecklin said there was nothing fancy about the Cougars' approach.
"Our hitters are putting to use what we worked on all week, and that's going the other way," he said. "The majority of our guys had better at-bats today."
SIUE scored a single run in the first inning, two more in the third inning, and three runs in the fifth inning.
"It looked like our hitters had a plan at the plate," Stoecklin said.
Matt Borens (0-2) started and allowed all six runs over 4 2/3 innings for EIU. He walked four and struck out three.
Treysen Vavra, Brant Valach, and Nathan Sopena each collected two hits for the Panthers, who dropped to 3-9 overall and 0-1 in the OVC.
The Cougars and Panthers, who were originally scheduled to play single games Saturday and Sunday, now will wrap up the three-game series with a doubleheader Saturday. First pitch is scheduled for 12 p.m. With rain expected Sunday both coaches agreed to the schedule change.
"Hopefully we can parlay this win into a win of the series tomorrow," Stoecklin added.