EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – Illinois State swept a doubleheader Tuesday at Simmons Baseball Complex, scoring three times in the top of the seventh inning to come-from-behind for a 6-5 win in the nightcap. The Redbirds won the opener 17-3.
The Cougars dropped to 6-12, while Illinois State improved to 13-5.
The Cougars committed a combined nine errors accounting for five unearned runs over the two games.
"I'm not happy with the way we played on defense," SIUE Head Coach Tony Stoecklin said. "I stress pitching and good defense first. We scored enough runs to win today. We're going to get back to fundamentals and we're going to bust our butts on defense and get ready for Murray State."
SIUE returns to Ohio Valley Conference play with a three-game road series Friday-Sunday at Murray State.
The Cougars built a 5-0 lead in the game two against Illinois State starter Matt Lambert. SIUE scored a run in the first inning before adding four in the second inning. Jacob Stewart drove in a run in the inning with a double; Denton Reed added a two-run triple and Nick Lombardo drove in Reed with a sacrifice fly.
"After the second inning we got shutout for five straight innings," Stoecklin added. "We cooled off real quick."
ISU relievers Will Headen, David Suarez and Jeremy Rhoades held the Cougar offense to just three hits over the final five innings.
The Cougars took a 5-3 lead into the seventh inning when the Redbirds scored three times against SIUE closer P.J. Schuster. Schuster fell to 1-1 with the defeat. He gave up three hits in the inning and two of the runs were unearned. He struck out two.
Sophomore lefthander Zach Malach made his first career start for the Cougars. He allowed two runs on four hits over 3 1/3 innings. He struck out one.
In game one, SIUE took a 3-0 into the third inning, before the Redbirds scored 17 unanswered runs on 19 hits against four Cougar pitchers. Freshman Mike Miller (0-1) suffered the loss in his first start. He gave up five runs, three earned, on six hits over 3 2/3 innings. He struck out six.
Stoecklin said he liked the job both starters did for SIUE.
"I thought Mike threw the ball exceptionally well," he said. "We didn't help him out a whole lot. He pounded the zone. His pitches were crisp. He impressed me today. This was not an easy day to pitch. He didn't back down. He went right after the lineup.
I feel the same way about the way Zach handled himself," Stoecklin continued. "I thought Zach did really well for himself too."
Alec Saikal was the only SIUE player with more than a single hit in the opener. He was 2 for 4. He was 2 for 2 in the second game with a walk and a run scored.
Stoecklin believes that the Cougars can learn from a day like Tuesday.
"Maybe it will be a blessing in disguise that we got beat by our poor defense during a nonconference series. Maybe it will open our eyes and we'll realize that we can't go out and play bad defense and expect to beat good teams."
First pitch for Friday's series opener at Murray State is scheduled for 3 p.m.