RICHMOND, Ky. – Eastern Kentucky snapped an 8-8 tie with a run in the bottom of the eighth inning, defeating SIUE 9-8 Friday in the second game of a three-game Ohio Valley Conference series.
SIUE fell to 10-10 in OVC play and 13-23 overall. Eastern Kentucky improved to 18-21 and 8-9 in the OVC.
The Colonels prevailed in a see-saw battle which was tied on four separate occasions.
"It's only deflating if you choose to let it be deflating," SIUE Head Coach Tony Stoecklin said. "It's a loss. It only counts as one loss regardless of how you lose. We can still complete our task (winning the series). It's still in front of us."
Eastern Kentucky used two hits and a pair of walks to take a 2-0 lead in the first inning against SIUE starter Jarrett Bednar.
The Cougars answered with two runs each in the third and fourth innings. Nick Lombardo and Denton Reed each drove in a run in the third inning, while Devin Caldwell picked up an RBI in the fourth inning.
The Colonels tied the game in the fifth with two runs on three hits. Bednar left the game with two runners on and two outs in the inning. EKU outfielder TJ Alas singled off Cougar reliever Jake Stauffenberg to drive home both runs to tie the game 4-4. Bednar allowed four runs on six hits over 4 2/3 innings in his first start since Feb. 22. He struck out a career-high five hitters.
"I think he could have pitched better," Stoecklin said of Bednar. "I don't think he pitched poorly, but I think he could have pitched better. I think he would tell you that too. He made pitches when he needed to, but he threw an awful lot of pitches. When you throw that many pitches it's usually an indication that you aren't as sharp as you should be."
The Cougars took a 6-4 with a pair of runs without a hit in the seventh. Austin Verschoore reached on an error to start the inning. Lombardo was hit by a pitch and both runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Reed. Chase Green drove home a run with a sacrifice fly to left. Lombardo stole third base, and then scored on a wild pitch.
The Colonels opened the seventh inning with five consecutive hits and eventually scored four times against Stauffenberg. Bryan Soloman led off the inning with a home run to right field. Ben Fisher, Alas, and Luke Wurelbacher all had RBIs in the inning to give EKU an 8-6 lead.
Stauffenberg allowed four runs over 1 1/3 innings he allowed four runs on six hits. He struck out one.
The Cougars again found an answer. Skyler Geissinger was hit by a pitch to start the inning. Caldwell then singled. Jake Michalak executed a sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third with one out. Brian Sipe grounded out to drive in a run before Verschoore worked a two-out RBI-single out of a long at-bat.
"Every time this year he's been asked to take an at-bat in a situation where it meant something he's taken a good at-bat," Stoecklin said of the freshman. "He's always been confident. He's taken way more good at-bats than poor at-bats when it really matters. That's clutch and that's what we need more of."
Verschoore finished the game 2 for 4 with the RBI and two runs scored.
"You could see that he was locked in," Stoecklin added. "Anything less than doing his best was not going to happen. I have seen that from him time and time again this year."
The Colonels added the eventual game-winning run in the eighth on two hits against Cougar reliever P.J. Schuster. Fisher drove in the run with a one-out single. Fisher led the Colonels at the plate. He was 4 for 5 with four RBIs and two runs. Soloman also was 4 for 5. He drove in one and scored twice.
Schuster fell to 1-3 with the loss. He allowed the run on two hits and struck out one in two innings of work.
Caldwell finished 2 for 4 with an RBI and two runs.
"Devin took quality at-bats today," Stoecklin said. "He scalded the ball a couple of times."
Reed, Geissinger, and Alec Saikal each also had two hits for the Cougars.
The Cougars and Colonels will play the rubber match of the series Saturday. First pitch is slated for 12 p.m. CT.