March 9, 2014

Cougars Outlast Panthers in 12 Innings

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – Skyler Geissinger's two out, RBI-single in the 12th inning lifted SIUE baseball to an 8-7 extra inning win over Eastern Illinois in game two of a three-game series at Simmons Baseball Complex.

SIUE improved to 4-8 overall and 2-0 in OVC play with the win. Eastern Illinois fell to 2-12 and 0-2.

"It's about being tough and being competitive and finding a way to win a ballgame," SIUE Head Coach Tony Stoecklin said. "That's what we did today. We found a way to win a ballgame."

Because SIUE was batting first, the Cougars had to hold off Eastern Illinois in the bottom of the 12th inning. Panthers' leftfielder Caleb Howell singled to start the inning, but was caught stealing by SIUE catcher Brian Sipe. It was the third time in the game that Sipe caught and EIU player at second base.

Cougar reliever Brett Thomas (2-0) then retired the next two hitters. Thomas struck out EIU rightfielder Montana Timmons to end the game.

Thomas tossed three scoreless innings allowing just the single hit to earn the win. He walked one and struck out one. EIU reliever Garrison Stenger (0-4) suffered the loss. He tossed the final two innings allowing the run on two hits.

Geissinger finished the day 4 for 7 with four RBIs including the game winner. The Cougars' shortstop is now hitting .361 for the season.

"Skyler had a couple of clutch at-bats," Stoecklin said of the sophomore. "He made it happen when we needed it most."

The Cougars broke out on top with an unearned run in the third. Nick Lombardo drove home Jacob Stewart, who had reached on an error, to make it 1-0. Geissinger made it 3-0 when he drove home a pair of runs with a double off of EIU starter Jake Jahansmeier in the fifth inning.

Johansmeier lasted five innings allowing three runs on six hits.

SIUE carried the 3-0 lead into the sixth inning when the Panthers finally got to SIUE starter Evan Martens for three runs on four hits to tie the score. Martens finished the inning thanks in part to his third double-play inducing ground ball of the game. The freshman allowed the three runs on six hits overall. He struck out two and walked one. The six-inning outing was the longest of his young career.

"Evan did a nice job. I liked the way he went out there and battled," Stoecklin said. "He ran into the one big inning where he gave up the three spot. Other than that he threw really well."

SIUE took a 6-3 lead with a run in the seventh and a pair of unearned runs in the eighth. The Panthers committed two errors in the inning and five total in the game. SIUE did not commit and error.

"We preach good defense and we played it today and it was probably the difference in the ballgame," Stoecklin said.

The Panthers scored four times in the eighth inning to take a 7-6 lead before Austin Verschoore tied the game for SIUE in the ninth with a two-out RBI-single. Verschoore finished 2 for 5 with the RBI.

Chase Green was 4 for 7 with hits in each of his final four at-bats. Lombardo was 3 for 7 with an RBI and two runs in the win.

Eastern Illinois was led by Howell who finished 3 for 5 with two RBIs.

The Cougars will try for the sweep Suday afternoon with a 1 p.m. start.

"It's nice to be 2-0 but our work's not done," Stoecklin added. "I guarantee Eastern will show up tomorrow and play hard. If we don't come out here and focus they'll win tomorrow."