EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – Mason McReaken threw five scoreless innings of relief and SIUE erased a five-run deficit with a seven-run sixth inning Sunday for a 7-5 win over Southeast Missouri in the finale of a three-game Ohio Valley Conference series at Simmons Baseball Complex.
The Cougars won the final two games of the series and improved to 13-10 overall and 4-5 in the OVC. Southeast Missouri dropped to 11-10 overall and 4-5 in the OVC.
The series win is the first for SIUE over Southeast Missouri since the move to NCAA Division I in 2009.
"This is a really big win," SIUE Head Coach Sean Lyons said. "On Sundays when you come in 1-1 everyone in the league is battling and jockeying for position and to get this win today was really big for us. It didn't look good early; we really had to grind it out."
The Redhawks scored single runs in the first and third innings before scoring three times on three hits in the fourth inning. Chris Osborne had two hits, drove home two and scored twice in the first three innings for SEMO. Dan Holst added two doubles and an RBI.
The Cougars turned the ball over to McReaken to start the fifth to quell the Redhawks' momentum
"Things weren't going well for us early on," Lyons said. "We just really need some zeros. We made the decision to go to Mason and ride him as long as we can. He was strong and was able to go a full five innings."
SIUE then sent 12 hitters to the plate in the sixth inning against three Southeast pitchers. Starter Robert Beltran started the inning and gave up back-to-back hits to Keaton Wright and Jared McCunn, who doubled. Dustin Woodcock hit a sacrifice fly to the left field wall to get the Cougars on the board.
Carlos Vega (1-1) relieved Beltran and Brock Weimer popped up to short right field. The ball was dropped allowing McCunn to score to make it 5-2. Jordan Stading singled, Jackson Layton walked to load the bases and Mario Tursi walked to force in a run to make it 5-3. Layton came home on a wild pitch and Eric Giltz followed with a sacrifice fly to right to tie the game.
After a walk to Alec Skender, Matthew Wade took over for SEMO and Wright and McCunn each came up with their second hits in the inning to push the Cougars in front.
Vega suffered the loss, allowing five runs, just one earned, on a hit and three walks.
McReaken took care the rest for SIUE. The junior allowed three hits, but struck out a season-high six batters to improve to 2-1 with the win.
"We told our guys Mason would put up zeros, and to just find a way to scrap and get some runs going," Lyons said. "We were the beneficiaries of a couple of miscues on their end and some walks, but our guys took advantage for the big inning and then held them in check.
"When we got the lead everybody believed that Mason was going to close the door and he did," Lyons continued.
Wright and McCunn each finished with two hits and an RBI to lead the Cougars, who improved to 9-3 in home games this season.
"Everybody likes to play at home," Lyons said. Today we had a big crowd. SEMO brought some people and brought some big energy to the stands and to the life of the game and the guys were able to feed off that."
SIUE returns to the road to begin a four-game stretch with a Wednesday game at Evansville. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.