EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – SIUE scored a come-from-behind 6-5 win in game one and then pulled away for a 8-1 in game two, sweeping a doubleheader from Murray State to open Ohio Valley Conference play Friday at Simmons Complex.
The teams will take Saturday off before finishing the series Sunday at 1 p.m.
The Cougars improved to 10-5 overall and 2-0 in OVC play. The Racers are now 8-6 overall and 0-2 in the OVC.
"It took a total team-effort in game one," SIUE Head Coach Sean Lyons said. "To win two on day one is big in the OVC."
Trailing 5-4 going into the bottom of the ninth inning in the opener, Keaton Wright, Jared McCunn and Dustin Woodcock picked up consecutive one-out singles. Woodcock's hit scored Wright to tie the game, 5-5. Aaron Goecks walked to load the bases and Jordan Stading grounded into a fielder's choice which saw McCunn thrown out at the plate. With two outs, Mario Tursi, bounced a ball up the middle. Murray State second baseman Caleb Hicks made a sliding stop behind second base, but his throw pulled shortstop Jaron Robinson off the bag, allowing Woodcock to score the winning run.
The Cougars built a 4-0 lead with a run in the first inning, two in the third inning and another in the sixth. Woodcock drove in two runs and Stading added a run with a sacrifice fly.
The Racers battled back scoring two runs in the seventh against SIUE starter Brock Fulkerson and two in the eighth against reliever Mason McReaken. Murray State got another in the ninth against McReaken before David Llorens closed out the inning.
Fulkerson allowed only the two runs on three hits over a six-inning start. He held the Racers hitless through the first five innings. He struck out a season-high eight hits.
"Brock Fulkerson in game one pitched really well," Lyons said. "We might have tried to extend him a little too far.
"The bullpen struggled a little bit," Lyons continued. "David Llorens came in, got us out of a jam and gave us a shot and we pulled it out there at the end.
Llorens (1-0) earned the win with a scoreless inning.
The Cougars got six innings from starter Danny Erhsam (3-0) in game two. Ehrsam was slotted into the weekend rotation only after Nelson Martz came down with the flu.
"With the weekend that we've had leading up to this, we have four guys who have all pitched on the weekend and have all pitched well," Lyons said. "Danny stepped right in and we didn't skip a beat with him. Praise to him for doing that."
SIUE scored five times with two outs in the third inning to open a 5-0 lead. Woodcock drove home two with a single to right field. Stading then roped a bases-loaded double into the gap in left center to clear the bases.
"Jordan Stading had a huge double for us," Lyons said. "He had been struggling a little bit and to get that double was big for him."
Racers' starter Austin Dubsky (2-2) took the game two loss. He allowed five runs in four innings.
Murray State scored its only run on two hits in the fifth inning. Hicks scored on a wild pitch after reaching with a one-out double.
Both Giltz and Skender worked double digit pitch at-bats before coming up with RBI-hits.
"Those guys just battled," Lyons said of the Giltz and Skender at-bats. "I don't know if they were 12-13 pitch-at-bats and both followed by big RBI-hits for us. We've talked about that in practice: about not giving away at-bats. They put two together right there and they deserve a lot of credit for it."
Tyler Hutchinson threw the final three innings for SIUE to earn his first save. He allowed just one hit and struck out one.
Woodcock, who moved from the leadoff spot to the four-hole, finished the day 5 for 9 with five RBIs.
"It's just been a matter of time for him," Lyons said. "He's a guy that we've expected to do some good things. We made a little lineup change and he came through."
Stading had two hits and three RBIs. Skender had four hits over the two games for SIUE.