EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – SIUE scored a run and left two on in the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday, coming up just short in a 3-2 loss to UT Martin in the final game of a three-game Ohio Valley Conference series at Simmons Baseball Complex.
The Cougars have now lost nine straight games and fell to 17-22 overall and 6-15 in OVC play. UT Martin, which swept a series from SIUE for the first time, improved to 17-20 overall and 7-11 in the OVC.
"It was a tough one," SIUE Head Coach Sean Lyons said. "We got close there at the end. We had an opportunity and really scrapped all the way until the very end, so I am proud of the guys for that."
Trailing 3-1 heading into the ninth, UTM reliever Alex Evans retired the first two hitters in the inning. Jordan Stading and Eric Giltz each singled with two outs before Jackson Layton finished off a lengthy at-bat with an RBI-hit into left to make it 3-2 with runners at first and third.
Mario Tursi flied out to end the game. Tursi scored the only other run of the game for the Cougars in the sixth inning after leading off with a single. Jared McCunn drove him home with a sacrifice fly to right which made it 3-2.
The Skyhawks took a 2-0 lead in the third inning after loading the bases with nobody out against SIUE starter Danny Ehrsam. Tanner Wessling singled to drive home the first run. Ehrsam then induced a pair of ground balls, the first went for a double play, bringing in the second run, and the second ended the inning.
UTM made it 3-0 in the fourth, taking advantage of a two-out error to score a run.
Ehrsam tossed five innings, allowing three runs, two earned, on seven hits. He fell to 3-1.
"Danny Ehrsam battled," Lyons said. He wasn't at his best. He got out of a huge jam in the third."
Mason McReaken threw four scoreless innings in relief for the Cougars. He gave up two hits, walked two and struck out four.
"We hadn't used him Friday or Saturday and we knew we could extend him today," Lyons said. "We went to him down 3-0 and he held them in check. He did a nice job."
Peyton Cain (1-3) scored the win for UT Martin. He allowed just a run on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings.
Reliever Alex Cain gave up a run on three hits in 2 1/3 innings to earn the save.
SIUE finished with 10 hits.
"I'm proud of our guys who really made an adjustment at the plate," Lyons added. "It's a hard day with the wind blowing in. Guys started going the other way and put balls on the ground to try to get them through the infield."
Stading, Layton and Tursi each finished with two hits. Layton added the RBI and also made several nice plays in left field, including robbing UTM leadoff man Conner Aube of a home run on the first pitch of the game.
"He gave us some momentum right at the beginning," Lyons said. "He has really been working hard in practice. He's been grinding and working and he took advantage of the opportunity today for him."
SIUE heads onto the road for eight straight games away from home. The Cougars will play Wednesday night at Bradley.
"We have to take the mindset that it doesn't matter where we're playing, we just have to play better," Lyons said. "If we continue pitching like we have this weekend we're going to be ok."