MURRAY, Ky. – SIUE got seven strong innings from freshman right hander Evan Martens and defeated Murray State 3-1 in the second game of a three-game Ohio Valley Conference baseball series at Reagan Field.
The Cougars improved to 6-2 in the OVC and 8-12 overall. Murray State is now 4-4 in league play and 9-11 overall.
Martens (2-2) allowed a single run on seven hits. He walked one and struck out a career-high five hitters in the longest outing of his career.
"He did a great job," SIUE Head Coach Tony Stoecklin said. "He went out there and pounded the strike zone."
The Cougars picked up an unearned run in the third inning to go up 1-0. Austin Verschoore picked up an RBI on what would have been a ground out. Murray State shortstop threw high to first base allowing Verschoore to reach. Zach Little scored from third after a leadoff single. He stole second and went to third on an errant throw by the 'Breds' catcher Clay Fuson.
Little was 2 for 3 to lead SIUE.
Murray State threatened in the third and fourth innings, putting the leadoff hitter on base in both frames. In the third they left a runner on third. In the fourth inning the 'Breds left runners at second and third.
"You could see that his focus got sharper and he made up his mind that those guys were not going to score," Stoecklin said. "That's the sign of somebody who is starting to believe that they can get it done at this level. The confidence he showed when he got in a jam was tangible. You could see it. You could feel it. I like the way he went about his business today."
The Cougars loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth inning when Chase Green laced a single to right to plate two and give the Cougars a 3-0 lead. Green was 1 for 4 with the pair of RBIs.
"Chase came up with another clutch at-bat and drove in those two runs and that was the difference in the ballgame," Stoecklin added.
The 'Breds scored their only run in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI-single by Matt McGowan. McGowan was 2 for 4.
Murray State starter Brock Downey (4-1) went the distance allowing the three runs, two earned, on five Cougar hits. He struck out seven.
"He did a great job. He had really good stuff," Stoecklin said of Downey. "We were fortunate to win. I really liked the way he competed and I liked his stuff on the mound as well."
Murray State loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the ninth on a pair of hit batters and a hit against SIUE closer P.J. Schuster. Schuster struck out Fuson before MSU third baseman Matthew Johnson grounded into a game-ending double play.
"It's all about just getting the job done," Stoecklin said of Schuster. "It wasn't pretty but when he needed to make pitches he did. Obviously that's not how you want to draw the ninth inning up but a save is a save."
SIUE will try for its first OVC sweep of the season in the Sunday finale. Jake Stauffenberg will make the start for the Cougars. First pitch is set for 1 p.m.