March 9, 2013

Cougars Sweep Series from Panthers

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – SIUE swept a baseball doubleheader from Eastern Illinois Saturday, winning 7-5 in the opener before taking the nightcap 6-2 at Simmons Complex.

SIUE improved to 5-7 overall and 3-0 in the Ohio Valley Conference. Eastern Illinois dropped to 3-11 and 0-3 in the OVC. The Cougars have now won four straight over the Panthers and are 8-1 against them since 2010.

"It Feels great," SIUE Interim Head Coach Tony Stoecklin said of the sweep. It's great to bounce back. Obviously these are the games that matter the most (OVC games).

Joel Greatting put the Cougars on top in game one when he led off the second inning with his first home run of the year to make it 1-0. EIU scored twice in the fourth to lead 2-1, but SIUE answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning. Matt Seevers drove home a run with an infield single and Nick Lombardo brought in another with a groundout.

When EIU took a 4-3 lead in the seventh, SIUE had an answer again. Greating, Ryan Mansfield and Skyler Geissinger each picked up RBI-hits in the inning to put the Cougars on top 6-4. Both teams scored in the eighth inning for the final margin. Mansfield added his second RBI of the game with a sacrifice fly.

The Cougars scored the seven runs on 10 hits against five Eastern Illinois pitchers. Scott Houdeck (0-1) allowed two runs without retiring a hitter to suffer the loss.

Stoecklin said the ability of SIUE to come back shows character.

"It shows some fight, some heart and some toughness," he said. "It's about going out and competing and having the belief that you can overcome."

Greatting was 3 for 3 with the home run and two RBIs. Mansfield finished the opener 2 for 3 with two RBIs. Nathan Sopena and Demetre Taylor each had two hits for EIU in game one.

Freshman Sam Hopkins allowed two runs in 4 1/3 innings in his second start of the year. Jake Stauffenberg (2-0) earned the win in 2/3 of an inning of work. Tony Schaeffer allowed an unearned run on two hits for his third save of the season.  

Freshman P.J. Schuster (1-3) made his first collegiate start in game two and earned the win with 6 1/3 innings. He allowed two runs on five hits and struck out a career-high six hitters. Schuster retired 11 consecutive hitters at one point in the game.

Stoecklin praised both of his freshmen starters.

"I was impressed with their outings," Stoecklin said. "For two freshmen to come out and give us a chance to win is outstanding. This is not an easy league to pitch in and they both handled themselves really well."

Drew Staples struck out two in 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief in the second game.

The Panthers took a 1-0 lead in the first inning of game two, before the Cougars took control of the game.

SIUE scored two runs in the fourth inning on RBI-hits from Seevers and Geissinger to lead 2-1. The Cougars capitalized on an Eastern Illinois error and three hit batters in the fifth inning to score three times. Zach Little and Seevers each were hit by a pitch with the bases loaded for RBIs. Geissinger beat out an infield hit to drive home his second run of the game. Matt Highland chipped in an RBI-single in the sixth inning to make it 6-1.

Geissinger was 3 for 4 with the two RBIs. Highland was 2 for 4. Seevers was 1 for 3 with the two RBIs.

"I thought we were much better on offense all weekend," Stoecklin added. "We tried to work on hitting the ball the other way. We were much better at that this weekend."

EIU managed just five hits by five different players. Treysen Vavra hit his first home run of the year in the seventh for the final margin.