JACKSON, Tenn. – No. 4 seed SIUE baseball opened its first-ever appearance in the Ohio Valley Conference championship with an 11-6 opening-round loss to No. 5 Morehead State Wednesday at the Ballpark at Jackson.
"We just didn't play well," SIUE Head Coach Tony Stoecklin said. "And you have to tip your cap to (Morehead State starter Luke) Humphreys. He did a good job keeping us off balance. He threw enough strikes to keep us from taking great at-bats."
Morehead State (29-26) jumped out to a 6-0 lead after 2 ½ innings, scoring three times in the first inning, once in the second inning and twice more in the third inning.
SIUE (21-32) loaded the bases with nobody out in the third thanks to a walk, a hit batter, and an error. Nick Lombardo lined a triple to the gap in left center field to cut the lead to 6-3.
"Nick came up big early in the game," Stoecklin said.
Lombardo finished the game 1 for 5 with the three RBIs. Keaton Wright added an RBI on a groundout in the fourth to make it 6-4 MSU.
The Eagles scored four more times in the fifth inning and added a run in the seventh to extend their lead to 11-4.
Jarrett Bednar (1-6) suffered the loss allowing four runs, two earned, in just 1 1/3 innings. Jake Stauffenberg allowed four runs in 2 2/3 innings. Mike Miller surrendered two runs in just 1/3 innings.
"As I reflect on the game, there weren't a whole lot of great performances on the mound," Stoecklin said.
Brett Thomas relieved Miller in the fifth inning and allowed one run in 4 2/3 innings.
"He kept it from completely getting out of hand," Stoecklin said of Thomas. "Overall I don't think we performed well on the mound."
The Cougars scored twice on four hits in the eighth inning. Wright and Jacob Stewart each had RBI singles in the inning for the final margin.
Wright finished 1 for 3 with a walk and two RBIs. Stewart also was 1 for 3. Zach Little was 2 for 2 after entering as a defensive replacement late in the game.
"Zach came in and gave us some quality at-bats and possibly earned himself some playing time tomorrow," Stoecklin added. "Zach hadn't played much in the last couple of weeks. I wanted to give him the opportunity to get some at-bats. He took advantage of that opportunity."
SIUE will play in the first elimination game of the tournament Thursday morning at 11 a.m. The Cougars will face the loser of the game between No. 3 seed Jacksonville State and sixth-seeded Eastern Illinois.
We have to start winning. There's no way around it. We can beat around the bush but now it's all about winning games.