EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – SIUE junior right-hander Travis Felax fired the first complete-game shutout of his career Friday, as the Cougars blanked Southeast Missouri 4-0 in the opener of a three-game Ohio Valley Conference series at Simmons Baseball Complex.
"He just looked like Travis again tonight," SIUE Interim Head Coach Tony Stoecklin said. "I don't know how else to describe his performance. "He just goes out there and continues to give us an opportunity to win on Friday night."
The two schools will continue the series with a noon start Saturday. The game was originally scheduled for 1 p.m., but forecasted afternoon rain prompted the schedule change.
Felax used 104 pitches, allowed just four hits, and established a new career high with 10 strikeouts, the final one being of SEMO designated hitter Ryan Barnes to end the game. The Troy, Ill. native did not walk a hitter and improved to 3-3 on the year. The victory was the third complete game this season for Felax and the sixth of his career. Friday also marked the fifth consecutive start in which Felax pitched at least eight innings.
SIUE, now 8-16 overall and 6-7 in the OVC, scored all four of its runs with four hits in the second inning. Skyler Geissinger led off the inning with a double down the left field line. Ryan Mansfield then lined a one-out single to right field to drive home Geissinger with the game's first run. Caleb Wilkerson followed with a walk. James Vazquez then drove home Mansfield with a single.
Vazquez and Wilkerson then pulled off the double steal when Vazquez got caught in a rundown between first and second base, allowing Mansfield to score to make it 3-0. Travis Becherer followed with an RBI-single to drive home Vazquez with the fourth run.
Stoecklin said Felax responded after the Cougars took the lead.
"I almost was concerned with (Felax) going out there and pitching as if the weight was off him," He didn't do that. He kept his foot on the gas and continued to compete like it was 0-0."
The Cougars finished with 10 hits as a team. Joel Greatting, Geissinger, and Mansfield each had two hits for SIUE. Stoecklin also said he believes the offense is taking shape.
"They look like themselves again," he said. "They seem to be a lot looser. They're having a lot more fun and playing with confidence."
SEMO starter Will Spitzfaden (3-3) allowed all four runs. He settled in to throw 7 1/3 innings. He struck out five and walked two. The Redhawks fell to 15-16 with the loss and 7-6 in the OVC.
Stoecklin added that winning the first game of the series is an advantage.
"It's huge," he said. "The pressure's not off. We still have to go out and play well tomorrow. Having the first one in the bag is a nice relief."