EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – Collin Baumgartner struck out 10, Justin Perkins homered twice and SIUE downed Murray State 11-6 Thursday in the first of a three-game Ohio Valley Conference series at Simmons Baseball Complex.
The Cougars improved to 10-18 in the OVC, while remaining in the race for the eighth and final spot in next week's OVC Championship. SIUE is 18-31 overall. Murray State dropped to 22-27 overall and 15-13 in OVC play.
Baumgartner was perfect through the first three innings, and SIUE built a 9-0 lead in the process.
"It's good to get game one obviously," SIUE Head Coach Sean Lyons said. "Collin pitched great. He set the tone right there in the first inning. Offensively, we took the momentum from him and got the three-spot there in the first."
Baumgartner settled in to work six innings, allowing two runs on eight hits while piling up a career-high 10 strikeouts.
"He gave us six good innings and really did a nice job," Lyons added.
"It was good to see the offense get going a little bit," Lyons said. "Guys know what this weekend means. They came out with a lot of energy."
The Racers fought back, scoring twice in the sixth inning against Baumgartner, including a solo home run from Ryan Perkins, Justin's twin brother. Murray State then scored four times in the seventh against SIUE reliever Chris Robinson. Jordan Cozart and Jaron Robinson each had two-RBI hits to cut SIUE's lead to 9-6.
"Credit to Murray State," Lyons said. "They got themselves within striking distance."
Justin Perkins' second two-run home run of the game in the seventh opened the game back up in the Cougars favor, putting SIUE up 11-6.
"It's a game of momentum," Lyons said. "After they put up the big inning, to get that two-run homer from Perkins really calmed the storm if you will."
Perkins finished 3-4 with four RBIs and three runs scored. Ryan was 3-4 with three RBIs and three runs.
Robinson was 3-5 to pace the Racers.
The SIUE win, coupled with losses by Southeast Missouri and Tennessee Tech moved SIUE and UT Martin into a three-way tie for eighth place in the OVC. The Cougars own tiebreakers with each of the other two.
Game two of the series with Murray State is set for 6 p.m. Friday. Kenny Serwa will start for SIUE.
"We have a lot of confidence playing behind him and if we can keep the bats going, we feel good about tomorrow night," Lyons said.