SIUE Tops Belmont in Series Opener

Ryan Daniels

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – Ryan Daniels improved his season record to 5-0 and tossed his second complete game of the season as SIUE baseball defeated Belmont 3-2 Friday night at Simmons Baseball Complex.

The win improved SIUE's Ohio Valley Conference record to 9-7, breaking a five-game slide in league play. SIUE ran its overall record to 12-20. Belmont fell to 13-20 overall and 5-8 in the OVC.

The same two teams are back out at Simmons Baseball Complex Saturday for a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. The schedule was altered due to weather conditions expected in Edwardsville Sunday.

On Friday, Daniels outdueled Belmont starter Patrick McGrath. After passing the 100-pitch mark in the eighth inning, SIUE Head Coach Tony Stoecklin didn't hesitate to send Daniels out in the ninth.

"It was his game," said Stoecklin. "He was fresh, and as far I was concerned, it was his game to win."

Daniels, who finished with a season-high nine strikeouts, was dominant early against the Bruins. He retired the first 12 batters he faced and didn't give up a hit until the sixth.

"He competed the whole night," said Stoecklin. "He went right after guys with his fast ball and really spotted up well all nine innings."

The Cougars provided just enough run support for the victory.

Devin Caldwell scored the Cougars' first run in the fourth inning. Caldwell reached first on a base hit through the left side. With designated hitter Keaton Wright at the plate, Caldwell took off on a hit and run and moved over to third on a single to right field by Wright.

Caldwell kept running though as he approached third. He was waved into home after Belmont right fielder William Dodd bobbled the ball and then threw into second base.

"That was a big run," said Stoecklin. "Actually, that was good coaching on Coach (Danny) Jackson's part, reading that misplay in the outfield and keeping Devin running hard."

The Cougars padded the lead in the sixth as they took advantage of two infield errors and an RBI single by Zach Little to take a 3-0 lead.

Belmont threatened in the eighth and plated two runs on a bases-loaded single by Matt Beady.

Stoecklin said SIUE's offense took good at-bats but weren't able to break through against McGrath, who struck out nine in 7 2/3 innings pitched and fell to 2-5.

"He threw three pitches for strikes and really kept us off-balance," said Stoecklin. "He just wasn't quite as good as Ryan."