EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – SIUE baseball opened the 2019 home season in fine fashion Friday, sweeping a doubleheader from UIC at Simmons Baseball Complex.
The Cougars improved to 3-5 overall, while UIC slipped to 1-7.
"These were two really good team wins," SIUE Head Coach Sean Lyons said. "The guys feel good about it. A lot of guys contributed."
Scheduled for a seven-inning affair, the Cougars needed an extra inning to get past the flames in game one. With the score tied 2-2, SIUE freshman Brady Bunten led off the inning with a double to right center and moved to third on an errant pickoff throw. Jordan Ross lifted a fly ball into right field and Bunten was able to beat the throw to home plate with the winning run.
"I give (UIC right fielder Scott Ota) credit," Lyons said. "He made an excellent throw from right field and Brady sneaks in under the tag to win it."
The Cougars took an early lead in the opener, scoring a run on two hits in the first inning. Brock Weimer doubled to drive home Ross with the first run.
SIUE reliever Chris Robinson (2-1) struck out eight hitters over four scoreless innings. He allowed just two hits and did not walk a batter. Robinson followed Collin Baumgartner who fanned a career-high seven hitters in four innings. He allowed two runs on six hits.
UIC righthander Jacob Key (0-3) worked the complete game for the Flames. He struck out nine and allowed three runs, two earned, on six SIUE hits.
"Key did an exceptional job," Lyons added. "We got on him the first two innings and then he settled into the game. He had us baffled. We were fortunate to get a run there."
The Flames got a grand slam from Dominic Smith in the first inning of game two to lead 4-0.
SIUE starter Cameron Prayer lasted only the inning, allowing the four runs on three hits and two walks.
"When you have a seven-inning game you don't want to take your starter out after one inning," Lyons said. "Cameron wasn't sharp in the first and they made him pay for it."
The Cougars plated two runs in the second thanks to throwing errors to trim the lead to 4-2. SIUE took over in the fifth with four runs on four hits. Dustin Woodcock singled to drive in a run and Carmichael added two RBIs on a two-out single to right field.
"We were the benefactors of a few miscues but I think some of that comes with the speed of some of our guys in the lineup this year who can put pressure on the defense," Lyons said. "It helped us chip away before we had the big inning."
The SIUE Bullpen shined in game two. Brayden Bone, Adam Drewry and Cole Milam combined for six shutout innings. Bone struck out five over three innings. Drewry (1-0) earned his first SIUE win with two shutout innings and Milam saved his second game of the year, striking out the side in the seventh.
"The two most important guys in today's games were Chris Robinson and Brayden Bone," Lyons said. "Both guys came into the game and just put up zeroes. Chris did a great job in game one to keep the score where it was. Brayden, in game two, gave us an opportunity to come back after we faced a 4-0 deficit in the first."
SIUE will open Ohio Valley Conference play next weekend with a series at defending regular-season champion Tennessee Tech.