Cougars Win Opener Over Gamecocks

P.J. Schuster

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – P.J. Schuster tossed 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief as SIUE topped Jacksonville State 7-6 Friday in the opener of a three-game Ohio Valley Conference series at Simmons Baseball Complex.

The win improved SIUE to 3-1 in OVC play and 5-9 overall. Jacksonville State also is 3-1 in the OVC and now 10-7 overall.

"That's a good start to the weekend," SIUE Head Coach Tony Stoecklin said.

Schuster (1-0) earned his first win of the year, striking out four hitters in the process.

"He pitched in a couple of tough situations," Stoecklin said of Schuster. "He got done what needed to be done. He showed a lot of toughness tonight."

Schuster came in with the game tied 6-6 in the eighth inning and runners on second and third. After striking out Eddie Mora Loera, Schuster intentionally passed JSU right fielder Griff Gordon before striking out Paschal Petrongolo to end the inning.

Austin Verschoore walked with two outs in the bottom of the inning before Nick Lombardo followed with a single against Connor Metcalf. Michael Mason relieved Metcalf to face Chase Green. Mason struck out Green but the pitch was in the dirt, got away from Stephen Bartlett, the JSU catcher, allowing Green to reach. Verschoore came in with the eventual game-winning run on another wild pitch by Mason.

Metcalf (1-1) suffered the loss allowing two runs in 3 2/3 innings.

Jacksonville State got back-to-back hits by Ryan Sebra and Andrew Bishop to start the ninth. Schuster then struck out Tyler Gamble and Stephen Bartlett before getting a ground out from Gavin Golsan to end the night.

"It boils down to we made pitches when we needed to," Stoecklin said.

The Cougars scored five runs over the game's first three innings. Skyler Geissinger and Alec Saikal each had RBI singles in the first inning to put the Cougars up 2-0.

The Gamecocks got an RBI single by Bartlett in the second inning to cut the lead to 2-1. Bartlett finished the night 3 for 5 with two RBIs.

Chase Green made it 3-1 with an RBI double in the third inning. Saikal drove in another run in the third and Jacob Stewart added a sacrifice fly to make it 5-1 SIUE after three innings.

"It's a lot easier to play when you're ahead," Stoecklin said. "So far (in OVC play) we've come out and gotten on top of teams earlier in games. It helps take the pressure off you and you can play a little more relaxed."

The Gamecocks managed four runs on five hits off over the next two innings to chase SIUE starter Ryan Daniels. Daniels allowed five runs, four earned, on seven hits. He walked one and struck out four.

Green doubled to drive in the go-ahead run in the sixth inning before JSU tied the game in the bottom of the eighth against SIUE reliever Brett Thomas.

Green and Saikal each had two hits and two RBIs in the win. Geissinger was 3 for 4 with the RBI.

Skyler just keeps taking good at-bats and producing runs," Stoecklin added. "Saikal came through twice tonight. He took a couple of good at-bats and drove in some runs. We need him to keep swinging the bat well."

The Cougars and Gamecocks will complete the series with a doubleheader Saturday afternoon. First pitch is set for 1 p.m.