March 23, 2013

Cougars’ Offense Comes to Life in Split with Breds

EDWARDSVILE, Ill. – SIUE hitters combined for 23 hits Saturday, including 15 in game one, as the Cougars and Murray State split an Ohio Valley Conference doubleheader at Simmons Baseball Complex. SIUE won the opener 13-12, before dropping the finale 8-1.

The Cougars, now 6-13 overall and 4-5 in the OVC, scored 11 times on six hits in the first inning in game one. SIUE sent 14 hitters to plate against Murray State starter Andrew Bramley and reliever Will Handlin.

The game one win snapped a five-game losing streak for SIUE.

"In the first game our offense looked pretty good," SIUE Interim Head Coach Tony Stoecklin said. "We just seemed to swing the bat with more confidence in the first game."

Devin Caldwell was 2 for 2 in the first inning alone with an RBI-single and a three-run home run. He finished 3 for 5. Travis Becherer was 2 for 4 with a pair of RBIs in the game. Matt Highland was 1 for 4 with a two-run single as part of the first inning onslaught. Joel Greatting was 2 for 2 and was on base five times in the game. He walked once and was twice hit by a pitch. Drew Johnson, who came into the game in the fourth inning, was 3 for 3.

Nick Lombardo made it 12-0 in the fourth inning with  a sacrifice fly to score Skyler Geissinger, who had singled.

Murray State, now 12-12 overall and 6-3 in the OVC, were undeterred. The 'Breds scored seven times on six hits in the fifth inning to make it 12-7. Brandon Eggenschwiler and Nick Paradossi each had two-run hits in the inning.

The Cougars went ahead 13-7 thanks to an RBI by Denton Reed in the sixth. As it turned out, SIUE would need all 13 runs.

Murray State scored five times against a trio of Cougar relievers in the ninth inning for the final margin.

The 'Breds had the tying run on third when Tony Schaeffer induced a game-ending popup. It was the fourth save of the season for the senior.  Sam Hopkins (1-1) earned the win in relief for SIUE. P.J. Schuster started and pitched into the fifth, but did not complete the inning, and thus did not qualify for the win.

Bramley fell to 0-1 with the loss for Murray.

SIUE took a 1-0 lead in the second game in the third inning. Becherer led off the inning with a double and then moved to third on a groundout by Highland. Joel Greatting drove home the run with a groundout.

The 'Breds scored twice in the fourth inning and added four runs in the fifth inning. Murray State recorded just a single hit in the inning, but took advantage of a walk and four SIUE errors in the inning.

"The inning was a complete break-down all the way around, both pitching and defense," Stoecklin said. "Unfortunately all nine innings count. We can't erase the one that hurt us."

The 'Breds tacked on two more runs in the ninth inning with RBIs from Taylor Mathews and Eggenschwiler.

Caleb Wilkerson (0-3) suffered the game two loss for the Cougars. He pitched 4 1/3 innings, allowing six runs, only three of which were earned. He struck out one and walked two.

Becherer, Geissinger, and Reed each had two hits in the second game for SIUE.

"We didn't get the clutch hits but we did have men on base," Stoecklin said about game two. "At the end of the day it's still about scoring runs."

Ty Stetson, Mathews, Eggenschwiler, Dylan Wheeler, and Brandon Elliott each had two hits for Murray State, which picked up 12 in the win.

Stoecklin added that the Cougars hitters should feel better about themselves after a day like today.

"It should give them confidence that they can score runs," he said. "I am confident. I know we can swing the bat a lot better than we have to this point."

SIUE remains home to take on Bradley Wednesday night at Simmons Baseball Complex. First pitch is 6 p.m.