EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – Nelson Martz tossed seven innings and Mason McReaken followed with two scoreless innings in relief as SIUE baseball defeated Northern Illinois 4-2 in the opener of a four-game series at Simmons Baseball Complex.
The win in the home opener, improved the Cougars' to 5-4 for the year. Northern Illinois fell to 2-6.
"To get game one is big as you head into the rest of the series," SIUE Head Coach Sean Lyons said. "We got another strong outing out of the pitching staff."
Martz (2-1) allowed two runs on five hits over seven innings. He tied a season-high with seven strikeouts. McReaken allowed only a walk in securing his third save of the year to tie him for the lead in the Ohio Valley Conference.
"Nellie had a little trouble early on finding his command a little bit, which is uncharacteristic," Lyons said.
The Huskies took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Jesus Tovar singled to drive in Tommy Hook who had walked with one out. Tovar finished the game 2 for 4.
The Cougars answered in the bottom of the second inning against NIU starter William Anderson. Jackson Layton and Dustin Woodcock each walked in the inning. Alec Skender drilled a sinking line drive to left with two outs in the inning to drive in Layton. When the ball was misplayed in left, Woodcock and Skender himself came all the way in to score to make it 3-1 SIUE.
Anderson (0-3) allowed three runs, but just one earned, on three hits. He walked four and struck out two.
NIU pushed across a run in the sixth to pull within a run at 3-2, but SIUE answered again.
Woodcock singled to drive in Mario Tursi who had walked to push the Cougars' lead back to two runs (4-2).
"Dustin Woodcock got a big hit for us there late and kind of gave us some separation," Lyons said. "That's what we needed. We need to get some more of those big hits as we move forward through the weekend."
"Those who have been following know that we haven't been swinging the bats all that well," Lyons said. "It continued a little bit today. It was a cold day and neither team were swinging the bats real well."
SIUE and NIU will continue the series with a Saturday doubleheader. First pitch of game one is slated for 1 p.m.