RICHMOND, Ky. – Junior Ryan Daniels tossed his second straight complete game, and his third of the season, leading SIUE over Eastern Kentucky 4-2 Thursday in the opener of a three-game Ohio Valley Conference baseball series.
The Cougars improved to 10-9 in OVC play, and are now 6-1 in series openers during Conference play. SIUE is 13-22 overall. Eastern Kentucky fell to 17-21 overall and 7-9 in OVC play.
Daniels allowed two runs on just six hits. He walked one and struck out one. He used just 98 pitches to secure the complete game and run his record to 6-0.
"It all starts with Ryan on Friday night," SIUE Head Coach Tony Stoecklin said. "Like I have said all year, he sets the tone. He comes to play every Friday night. I just love the way he goes about his business."
The Colonels took a 1-0 lead on consecutive hits in the second inning. EKU's Taylor Blair drove home the run on a groundout. EKU starter Tanner Perkins kept the Cougars off the scoreboard until the eighth inning.
Brian Sipe led off the inning with a single. Nick Lombardo intended to sacrifice Sipe to second base, but beat the play to first for a bunt single. Both runners moved on a groundout by Chase Green. The Cougars had runners at second and third with two outs when Alec Saikal lifted a fly ball to left field Blair broke back on the ball before correcting to come in on the play. He appeared to make the catch, but dropped the ball allowing both runs to score and Saikal to get to second base. Skyler Geissinger followed with a double off the right field wall which scored Saikal and gave SIUE a 3-1 lead.
Perkins (3-6) left after the double by Geissinger. All three runs allowed were unearned. He walked two and struck out six.
The Colonels managed a run in the eighth on three straight hits. Kenny Hostrander doubled to drive in a run and cut the lead to 3-2. With runners at first and third, Kyle Nowlin hit a slow ground ball to third base. Jacob Stewart scooped it up and started a double play. Green made a strong turn at second base and Saikal made a great pick up at first on a close play. It was the second double play turned by the Cougars.
"The double plays were huge," Stoecklin added. "We made a couple of clutch plays that really saved a couple of innings."
The Cougars added the insurance run in the ninth inning. Keaton Wright was hit by a pitch by EKU reliever Logan Hershenow. Stewart sacrificed Putkowski to second base. Brian Sipe then walked and Lombardo singled to load the bases. Hershenow unleashed a wild pitch to bring in Putkowski with the Cougars' fourth run.
"We did a great job dealing with adversity and staying tough," Stoecklin added. "We could have backed off and got down on ourselves. We fought and found a way to get back in the game and found a way to get it done."
SIUE finished with eight hits. Lombardo finished 4 for 5. Geissinger was 2 for 4 with the RBI.
The Cougars and Colonels continue the series with a 2 p.m. CT game Friday. Stoecklin said the win could propel the Cougars through the weekend.
"Winning a game like this should build our confidence," he said. "We beat a good pitcher, we dealt with adversity, and we came back late. All those things are positive. We need to build on that and take that into tomorrow."