Cougars Ground Eagles in Series Opener

Joel greatting

HATTIESBURG, Miss. – SIUE baseball opened a three-game non-conference series with a 6-5 win over Southern Miss Friday night at Pete Taylor Park/Hill Denson Field.

"It was a fun game," SIUE Interim Head Coach Tony Stoecklin said. "We played well in all facets tonight."

The Cougars (15-30) got the scoring started in the top of the first inning. Following a two out-single by James Vazquez, Joel Greatting launched his sixth home run of the year to put SIUE on top 2-0.

"Joel's home run was huge to get us going," Stoecklin added. "It's a lot easier to play when you're ahead."

Southern Miss (25-22) scored a run in the bottom of the first and then took a 3-2 lead in the third inning with a pair of runs against Cougar starter Caleb Wilkerson. Isaac Rodriguez tied the score with an RBI double before Mason Robbins added a sacrifice fly.

Rodriguez led the Golden Eagles with two hits and two RBIs.

Wilkerson (2-4) allowed three runs on six hits over 5 2/3 innings to earn the win.

"Caleb did a nice job," Stoecklin said. "He battled, attacked hitters, and gave us a chance to win."  

Greatting, Caldwell, Reed, and Lombardo each picked up RBI hits in a four-run fifth inning that put SIUE back on top 6-3. Three of the runs came against Southern Miss reliever Sean Buchholz, who suffered the loss without retiring a hitter.  

Greatting was 3 for 5 with the home run and three RBIs. Lombardo was 3 for 4 with the RBI.

"Joel had a nice game. He swung the bat really well," Stoecklin said. "Nick has righted the ship. He's taking great at-bats just about every time."

The Golden Eagles cut into the lead with a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Both runs were charged to reliever Brooks McDowell. Jake Stauffenberg took over on the mound for the Cougars and pitched the final 1 2/3 innings to earn his first save of his career.

"Brooks and Jacob both pitched well tonight," Stoecklin said.

Robbins singled to lead off the ninth inning for the Golden Eagles. Stauffenberg struck out Bradley Roney before getting pinch hitter Jared Bales to ground into a game-ending double play.

The Cougars and Eagles will play the second game of the series Saturday afternoon. First pitch has been moved up to 12 p.m. because of forecasted rain in the afternoon.