CHARLESTON, Ill. – Eastern Illinois scored five times in the fifth inning Friday to defeat SIUE 6-2 in the opening of a three-game Ohio Valley Conference baseball series at Coaches Stadium.
The Cougars dropped to 14-33 overall and 5-20 in OVC action. Eastern Illinois improved to 19-29 and 8-17 in OVC play.
The Panthers took advantage of a walk in the first inning and scored a two-out run against SIUE starter Collin Baumgartner. Then in the fifth, Eastern Illinois used five straight one-out hits to score five runs in the fifth inning and led 6-0 after the inning. Jimmy Govern's two-run hit to short center opened the scoring in the inning. Jimmy Huber and Hunter Beetley added RBIs in the frame.
"It was a frustrating day," SIUE Head Coach Sean Lyons said. "We got four good innings out of Collin and then the wheels kind of fell off. They didn't bang it around, but they had five straight singles there in the fifth to open it up. The big inning hurt."
Baumgartner (0-3) allowed five runs in 4 1/3 innings. He allowed seven hits, walked two and struck out two.
SIUE's only runs came in the seventh against EIU starter Tyler Jones. Brock Hammit led off the inning with a double off the left field fence. Garrett Carmichael singled to drive in Hammit with the Cougars' first run. Mario Tursi was hit by a pitch and Jordan Ross walked to load the bases. Eric Giltz singled through the right side to score Carmichael and make it 6-2. It is all the Cougars would get. They left the bases loaded.
In the eighth, the Cougars used a hit and two walks to load the bases again, but came up short, again stranding three on base.
"Our inability to capitalize on run-scoring opportunities hurt us," Lyons said. "To only come up with two runs after loading the bases in two straight innings is definitely frustrating. We left 11 guys on base. When you're in a must-win situation you need to come through in those spots."
Lyons also acknowledged EIU pitchers Jones and reliever Blake Malatestinic and the job they did.
"I will give credit to their pitchers," he said. "They made pitches when they need to in tough situations."
Carmichael and Giltz each had two hits for the Cougars, who finished with seven as a team.
Brock Fulkerson relieved Baumgartner in the fifth and allowed a run over 3 2/3 innings. He struck out two and did not walk a hitter.
"He was going to give us the best chance to keep putting zeroes up," Lyons said. "We got to the point where he was giving us the best opportunity to win this game."
The Cougars and Panthers will play the second game of the series Saturday. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m.